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Outside The Hash Marks

September 25, 2015

A couple of years ago, I was watching SportsCenter and the usual Top 10 segment came on. The list was dominated by sliding catches in the outfield, monster home runs and Lebron.

The one play that stuck out was an Ultimate Frisbee play. A player had essentially leaped clean over a defender to come down with a disc for a goal. While it was an impressive play, it sprung out the age-old question of what DOES count as a sport?

I’ll be honest, Ultimate Frisbee didn’t look like a sport to me either. My first impression was that it was an elementary gym class game or something college kids play when they’re bored. It certainly isn’t football, baseball or basketball. Those require athleticism! All Ultimate needs is a disc!

I began my research on Youtube, and the videos I saw were actually pretty impressive. Entire games are easily available online and they’re all awesome. I really found myself drawn to one of the two professional Ultimate leagues in America: the American Ultimate Disc League, partially because there are teams based in Chicago and the Midwest. Layout catches, pinpoint throws, ridiculous athletic feats of defense and all of it with minimal contact.

Oh, and the players can overrule the referees’ decisions. You read that right. It’s colloquially called the Integrity Rule, and it happens pretty often. Should a player decide that a ref tossed a flag without cause, the offending player simply says so. And then the ref picks it up without an argument.

The players are ridiculously athletic! The games are typically really competitive, barring the common drubbings that plague Detroit’s AUDL team. Since watching the games on the Internet, I’ve been to a ton of Wildfire games and it’s always been a good time. It’ll never match the weight of the five big sports, but the game has got its nice niche audience.

This of course, still doesn’t answer the question of what counts as a sport. In the case of Ultimate, though, the International Olympic Committee agrees with me.

Anthony Adams
Sports Columnist

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