As a former college Ultimate player who took the sport very seriously, I get a lot of crap. And I get it, the sport doesn’t do itself any favors calling itself “Ultimate Frisbee.” It’s like if Basketball were called “The Best Ball,” or “Cowabunga Ball,” or “Rockin’ Out With a Ball!”
But I want to get down, in writing, the fact Frisbee is a real sport played by real athletes who put their blood, sweat, and tears (don’t worry, not during the pandemic) into the game they love.
Here are the five biggest misconceptions about Ultimate Frisbee
1. It is a game for humans and their dogs
Absolutely not. This is a game for humans only. It is far too complex for a dog to understand. The offense is trying to pass the disc into the end zone, and the defense is trying for an interception so they can then do the same. There are different defensive configurations, and elaborate plays to counter those defenses. Most damning of all for our four-legged friends, it’s traveling if you run with the disc. And OK, sure, Ultimate players like dogs and if you attend a tournament there will most likely be some on the sidelines, but they’re leashed! To keep them off the field!
2. It’s for stoners
I sincerely doubt stoners would have the lung capacity to run cup in a zone. Oh sorry, got a little Inside Ultimate there. Basically, you have to be in good shape to be competitive. The frisbee field is 70 yards long with two 20-yard end zones. Games are played to 15 points, which means the playing time varies, though there’s often a cap at 90 minutes. And OK, fine, some Ultimate players smoke weed and play well, but that’s not the predominate culture of the sport at the competitive level. What is? Being in shape. (Brag intended.)
3. You can play barefoot
In fact, you cannot. Ultimate players wear cleats, just like football and soccer players, because we play on grass. Bare feet wouldn’t provide the traction necessary to make a hard cut inside and lose your defender, or to sprint down a floating disc and make a diving catch in the end zone. Plus, imagine the danger of being barefoot on a field full of athletes wearing cleats.
4. It is the same as Frisbee Golf
Disc golf and Ultimate are two separate things. It’s like comparing golf to hockey. Yeah, the equipment is kind of shaped similarly, but the sports are very different from strategy and mechanics to attitude and cool-factor. (Ultimate is cooler than disc golf IMO, if that wasn’t clear.)
5. I made a mistake dedicating my college years to Ultimate
Do I regret creating my class schedule around Ultimate practices? Nope. Do I regret not partying my senior year so I’d be in the best possible shape as our team headed to nationals? Nope. Do I regret putting “Ultimate Frisbee Co-Captain” on my resume right out of college? Yeah, I mean that one is pretty embarrassing. Shows a lack of judgement.