The Beginning of Ultimate Frisbee
Posted on: July 20th, 2012
Ultimate Frisbee has always been recognized as a sport for the rest. Its free form play style and lack of intense competitiveness enables it to be a game that everyone can play and enjoy. The reasons for such an existence are likely due to the time of its origins, the 1960’s, when the counter culture movement was at its peak.
Vietnam was in full swing and so was the Civil Rights movement. Hippies and rebellious youths engaged in flower power and rejected the conservative ways of their parents. 1967, harboring the “summer of love” was also the year that Ultimate Frisbee began to take shape in Maplewood, New Jersey.
During that lovely summer, a young Joel Silver had attended summer camp where he and fellow campers played an earlier variant of the game known as Frisbee Football. The Frisbee itself had grown quite popular during the UFO craze of the 50’s for its interesting method of flight.
Silver returned to Columbia High School in Maplewood that autumn and introduced his school to the game. The initial form was quite similar to football as the game utilized a line of scrimmage and downs. Basically it was a form of touch football but with a Frisbee.
The sport became popular with Silver and his friends. Additionally, the game served as a model for the counter culture ideology of the times. Many of the players were the top students academically in the school, not the typical “jocks” that dominate most high school sports. Further, another large portion of the participants were drug smoking hippies, early forms of today’s “bro.”
Silver named the game “Ultimate” because he felt it was the ultimate sporting experience. After a few rule changes during the initial year, the Ultimate Frisbee we now know today began to take shape as a hybrid of football, soccer, and of course Frisbee. After the initial class of pioneers left the school to pursue higher education, the tradition continued and began to expand.
News coverage brought more high schools into the mix and the game was introduced to universities as the players matured. The sport has become massive at the collegiate level, where numerous tournaments are played each year as the game continues to grow in popularity.
Columbia High School still houses one of the nation’s finest club teams, though it has still yet to gain recognition as an official school sport. A member of the 2007 Columbia High School graduating class, Max Kramer says, “Our high school’s team was club but won Nationals every year. The team was made up of people who couldn’t play real sports.”
Clearly Ultimate Frisbee has continued to stay true to its counter culture roots!