Ultimate Frisbee- No Ref, No Problem
Ultimate frisbee is one of the most popular and famous ‘ultimate’ versions of casual sports. People have been throwing discs around for generations and, for most, it’s nothing more than a simple beach time activity or a great toy to bring to the park. For over five million americans, however, a frisbee represents much more than a simple picnic activity. Ultimate frisbee is technically called ‘Ultimate”, since the word frisbee is actually a trademarked name owned by the toy company that first invented it. Instead of calling their sport ‘ultimate flying disk sport’ they decided to keep it sleek and mysterious and just call it ‘ultimate’.
Ultimate frisbee was first thought up by the creative minds at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. Their beloved lunchtime pastime got more and more intense until people from outside of the playground took note. Soon the sport spread through the town, state, and now the country. Nowadays, ultimate frisbee is played on multiple continents and has some pretty serious leagues that compete at the international level.
Although some Ultimate leagues are very professional and play at a high level, they’ve managed to maintain their playground origins in one key way- ultimate frisbee never has a referee. Of course there are strictly delineated rules and regulations but, in the true spirit of the game, players hold themselves and one another to proper standards. If someone fouls another player, the teams all decide together whether that counts as a foul. Being entirely self-regulated is one of the hallmarks of the sport itself. There's nothing more fun than watching a group of people throw a frisbee around and then all openly discuss whether a certain play should count. Of course having a referee has its benefits. Sometimes teams use an observer, someone who watches the game with an objective eye and offers input if the teams are ever locked in a disagreement.
The rules for ultimate frisbee are pretty much what you’d imagine if you’re familiar with playing frisbee at any level. Basically there is a rectangular court with an end zone on either side. Players throw frisbees to one another but are not allowed to take a step once they have the frisbee in hand. Frisbees can be aggressively intercepted but a player cannot be tackled when the frisbee is in their hand. If a player feels that they have been fouled they discuss it with their opponent rather than simply waiting for word from the referee. The best thing about this sport is that it requires very very little to get into and have fun with. So long as you’ve got a large, open area, some markers to delineate end zones, and a frisbee or disc to play with, you’re set. Since this sport was made up at the amateur level, it’s always one that you can get creative with and make amendments to. In the true spirit of Ultimate, the most important thing is simply that you just get out there and give it a try.