Posted on: May 10th, 2013
This is a controversial question to answer, as I’m sure that many Ultimate Frisbee enthusiasts would have you believe that Ultimate is indeed already a major sport in this country, as the game is played in tournaments at college campuses everywhere and there has even been the formation of a professional Ultimate Frisbee league, the AUDL. But will the sport ever take on the same prowess and scope as sports like football or baseball? The question is a tricky one and its answer lies possibly in the roots of Ultimate Frisbee itself.
The main thing holding Ultimate from becoming a mainstream sport is that the game isn’t as serious as other major sports. Many young athletes envision the dream of succeeding as a professional athlete as something that will come with great financial benefits ($20,000,000 contracts for NFL quarterbacks) or personal glory and recognition in front of millions of people (winning an Olympic Gold medal or World Series Championships). For all of the passion and fun attributed t Ultimate Frisbee, such a result is out of the question, at least for the foreseeable future.
But that’s not to say that perhaps one day the game of Ultimate Frisbee won’t be recognized on the global scale. The sport does have a World Championship tournament and has even seen some incredible Ultimate moments captured and displayed on Sportcenter’s Top 10 highlight reels. Because of this, Ultimate Frisbee has grown immensely in popularity and become a game that more and more people play.
As with any young and developing sport, its growth must begin small and will have to continue to rise before it becomes something along the same level as the other major sports. However, due to its core principles, I feel that Ultimate Frisbee will not and should not ever become a major American sport and here’s why:
Ultimate Frisbee was based around the counter-culture movement that rejects many of the aspects of major sports. Ultimate is a great recreational game to be shared with friends. Young soccer players and baseball players are often known to be extremely competitive and often times their lofty goals can get in the way of simply playing and enjoying the game.
The current form of Ultimate Frisbee is a beautiful sight. Players often sport backwards caps or play with no shirts. Could you imagine if any baseball players tried to attempt such a drastic change of dress code? The outcry from fans would be tremendous and accusations of disrupting the integrity and tradition of the game would circle like vultures.
Additionally, the lack of Ultimate Frisbee being a major sport prevents other less than exciting prospects from entering into the game. When’s the last time anyone involved in Ultimate was accused of using a performance-enhancing drug? The game doesn’t even need referees most of the time. However, with professional Ultimate Frisbee becoming a reality with the AUDL, referees are now being included into the games. However, with good sportsmanship such a regular occurrence in the sport, such referees hardly need to be present.
Personally, I fear the development of the game because it could turn it into a major sport with the same issues as baseball or football. I like the laid back nature of Ultimate Frisbee and hope it never changes. But who knows what the sport will look like in 10 years though as it continues to progress.