The Ultimate Sport

Harper Hill, News co-editor

Every Sunday, my dad wakes up and goes to Bennett Field with a dozen or more of the fellow neighborhood dads, and they scrimmage in a game of Ultimate. This has been routine since I can remember.

It was not until my brother took up this sport when I realized this wasn’t just a recreational activity for the suburban dads. In fact, it is much more than that, and it is time people started to realize this.

My brother Maddox Hill ‘16 began playing Ultimate in high school, starting off in my dad’s league, and then hoping to go a step further. Unfortunately, LT did not have a competitive team for him to join at the time. With every desire to follow this passion of his, he tried out for the top-ranked Neuqua Valley team and made it.

Every single day after seventh period, he would commute to Neuqua, alongside Bailey Blum ‘16 and Mary Sullivan ‘16, just to be a part of an Ultimate team – a sport many high schools neglect to acknowledge at a varsity level. He now plays for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hodags, a high-level Ultimate team that has qualified for nationals every year since 2000.

The disregard for the legitimacy of this sport is unfair and intolerable. In our day and time, Ultimate is overlooked and underappreciated for the true worth it holds.

Ultimate is a high-intensity sport in which two teams compete to successfully throw a disc and complete a catch in the defender’s end zone. Many discredit Ultimate because the games occur without the presence of a referee. Every call is made by the individual athletes.

While referees do not have a place in this game, highly competitive games and tournaments hire officials. The official’s job is to review any disputed calls, but otherwise simply remain observant. The game is in the hands of the athletes, as any game should be. Athletes are given the responsibility to self-officiate. After the end of each game, players stand side by side, alternating teams, to reflect on the game and resolve any prevailing conflicts.

Unlike any other sport, Ultimate revolves around sportsmanship and the spirit of the game. Personally, I think this makes Ultimate more worthy of the title “sport” because it values the importance of respect and true love for the game.

Another common misconception people have about the sport is that it requires minimal running, so anyone can do it. This is very incorrect. I have never watched a sport quite as physical and exhausting as this one. It is true that you cannot run with the disc, but a player may only hold onto the disc for a maximum of 10 seconds. The other six athletes on the field are responsible for cutting, sprinting, and everything in between to lose their defender and successfully get open for the disc, which is not a walk in the park.

Let me put this in common terms: football – one of the most highly regarded, extremely popular sports in America, attracting all kinds of attention from a diverse audience – is surprisingly quite similar to Ultimate.

The field dimensions are quite comparable to that of Ultimate: a standard football field is 48.5 meters by 109.1 meters, and a standard Ultimate field is 37 meters by 110 meters. An Ultimate field is actually longer. I would argue that Ultimate players are required to run more than football players. Watching a football game, every few seconds – on most plays – a down is made. The athletes are given a chance to rest, reset, and then resume. Ultimate is not quite like that. Until a point is scored, the players are in constant, strenuous motion without time to recover. It requires all athletes to be in exceptional shape, not to mention master all the skills necessary to successfully throw and catch the disc. Let me tell you- it is not as easy as it looks.

The bottom line is that Ultimate athletes compete in an extraordinary sport, and they deserve recognition for their true talents. Sadly, many people will hesitate to change their unjust conceptions of Ultimate, and continue to regard it as inferior to many other well-known athletics. All I can say is that it holds the name it does for a reason – it is the ultimate sport.