Ultimate is a competitive team sport that parallels American football, except that ultimate is a non-contact sport played with a flying disc. Credit for the creation of the sport is given to Joel Silver, who first organized a collegiate ultimate team when he attended Lafayette College in 1970. Today, in North America, ultimate is an intercollegiate sport and has been governed by its own organization, the Ultimate Players Association, or UPA, since 1980.
Ultimate is sometimes referred to as Ultimate Frisbee. Frisbee is a brand-name flying disc produced by Wham-o and Frisbees are sometimes used to play ultimate, the flying discs manufactured by Discraft are more commonly used. Following the rules of the sport, regulation ultimate must be played with a disc weighing 175g (6.173 ounces).
A regulation game of ultimate is played with two opposing teams, each consisting of seven players on the field at one time. The field measures 70 yards (64 meters) in length by 40 yards (37 meters) in width and includes end zones. The objective is to score points by receiving passes thrown by teammates into the opposing team’s end zone. While the playing field and objective of ultimate parallel American football, the similarities of the two sports essentially end there.
In ultimate, teams typically play to be the first to score a pre-determined number of points rather than playing until a clock runs down. There is no contact allowed in ultimate, but the game is refereed only by the players not officials. Players are responsible for calling their own fouls in the spirit of good sportsmanship. In fact, the largest premise of the game of ultimate is based on “the spirit of play”, making it a game played as much for fun as it is for competition.
In addition to collegiate and championship play, ultimate is quickly gaining popularity in schools across North America and in other areas of the world. Because the equipment used to play is inexpensive, it makes an excellent addition to both physical education curriculums and also as an extra-curricular sport for schools. Organizations interested in more information about ultimate can visit the UPA’s official website where start-up kits are available at low or no cost. Certain organizations may be eligible for a grant designed to promote the sport in schools and communities where it does not yet exist or has not been organized.