The fastest-growing team sport? It may be “ultimate’ It looks like a game of team “keep away,’ but it’sactually called “ultimate,’ “ultimate Frisbee,’ ormore affectionately, “ulty.
‘ You can play it at any park orplaying field, on a fall picnic or a beach outing. Ultimate is a great family game–easy to learn, with the bonus oflots of exercise. Best of all, it’s a noncontact sport; you mayget tired, but you probably won’t get bruised. If you’ve visited a college campus in the last few years, youmay have seen it played–a melee of people zigzagging up and down afield, blending the rules and skills of football, basketball, andsoccer. The game could possibly be the country’s fastest-growing teamsport. Since 1968, when the first recorded game of ultimate was playedon a New Jersey high school field, players have put together hundreds ofcollegiate and noncollegiate teams.
Where you can watch College campuses are good places to see ultimate played on a weeklybasis; several Western schools have clubs. Like lacrosse and rugbyteams, teams are considered sports clubs by athletic departments, butthe department office can usually tell you where and when teams play. Many schools also have intramural ultimate leagues. UC SantaBarbara, for instance, had 72 intramural teams this past spring. Most teams, collegiate and noncollegiate, belong to the UltimatePlayers Association (UPA). Beginning in mid-October, the western regionof UPA will hold a series of tournaments leading up to the regionalchampionships at UC Santa Cruz on November 3 and 4. Finalists will go onto play in the national championships, to be held on Thanksgivingweekend –November 22 through 25–at UC Santa Barbara. For full schedule details, write or call one of the groups listedon page 84.
Rules of the game Here are the basics of play, which we’ve adapted from theeighth edition of UPA’s Ultimate Official Rules. The object is to score goals by passing the Frisbee (disk) toplayers in the end zone. You can only pass it–not run with it– andhand-offs are not allowed. The game ends when you’re either tootired to continue or you reach a predetermined number of goals. To start, you “throw off’: teams line up on their goalline and one player throws the disk to the opponents.
If it goesout-of-bounds (OB), the receiving team can start where it went out orask for another throw. If it goes out beyond the goal line, play startsfrom the nearest front corner of the end zone. If a receiver touchesthe disk before it hits the ground, the throwing team takes possession. After the throw-off, the saucer-tossing march downfield begins.Players can go anywhere on the field at any time–no offsides–and canthrow in any direction.
When you catch the disk in flight, you have tostop as soon as you can, establish a pivot foot, and not change yourpivot until you throw. Teammates run around, trying to get open for a pass–thus themad-scramble look of the game. The defense guards the thrower andcovers receivers as in basketball or soccer, but defenders can’ttouch opponents or steal the disk from the thrower’s hand. Any undue physical contact is a foul, and it’s up to the twoplayers involved to decide who fouled whom.
The fouled player gets thedisk where the call was made; if the foul occurs in the end zone, playresumes at the goal line. Whenever a pass is incomplete, intercepted, knocked down, or fliesOB, possession changes. After a goal, teams defend the opposite goal,and the scoring team throws off. Ultimate book, newsletter, clubs The best book on the game is Ultimate: Fundamentals of the Sport,by Irv Kalb and Tom Kennedy (Revolutionary Publications, Box 4787, SantaBarbara, Calif. 93103). In California send $9.48 for a copy, $8.
48out-of-state; prices include postage, handling, and tax. To join UPA and get their rule book and a quarterly newsletter,send $7 to UPA, Box 2600, Mesa, Ariz. 85204. To find out when teams are playing, call or send a stamped,self-addressed envelope to one of these UPA coordinators: Westernregion: Ken Foote, 761 Grace Court, Livermore, Calif. 94550; (415)443-5213. Pacific Northwest: Dennis Clements, 980 Hampden N.E., Salem,Ore.
97301; (305) 585-8001. Rocky Mountains: Matt Westfield, 126 E.McKinley St., Tempe, Ariz. 85281; (602) 946-6378.
Northern California:Chris Johnson, 945 Kennard Way, Sunnyvale 94087; (408) 730-8751.Southern California: David Clacomb, 4602 Natalie Dr., San Diego 92115;(619) 282-7418. Photo: Young beachgoers converge on a pass in a friendly pickupgame of ultimate Photo: Eyes riveted on disk, balletic collegians tune up for SantaBarbara championships Photo: You can play official ultimate Frisbee with seven players onthe size of field shown here, or use a smaller field and fewer players