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My One and Probably Only Chance to Write About Ultimate Frisbee

by Robbie Gillies

I love pretty much all sports. But there is one sport I love much more than the rest. However, because of its relative obscurity, I never get a chance to write about it. Until now! Ultimate Frisbee has been in the news TWICE recently.

First, there was CNBC’s Darren Rovell, who reviewed the stats that the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association put together. He found that overall spending on sports merchandise is down 3.2 percent from last year but:

In 2006, there were 3.9 million people playing competitive frisbee. In 2007, that number climbed to 4 million and last year, there were 4.9 million ultimate frisbee players.

Another encouraging sign for the sport? More people are playing ultimate frisbee more often. The SGMA says that 18 percent of ultimate frisbee players played the game at least 25 times in 2008.

Move over rugby and jai alai, America has a new 12th favorite sport! It’s actually probably sandwiched between lawn bowling and paper football.

It’s obviously an easy sport to make fun of, because of its hippie-roots. Most people either know of it as that thing you play in between a round of hacky sack and hitting the bong, or think it has something to do with a dog. I assure you, at its highest level, it is neither of these.

Want proof? Well, that brings me to the second piece of Ultimate Frisbee news. There’s been this constant debate in Ultimate circles about how athletic Frisbee players really are. Some people are delusional enough to think that they are on par with college athletes of other sports (the athleticism isn’t anywhere close to that of Division I).

Another debate is how long it would take to turn a professional athlete into the best Frisbee player ever. I’ve always been under the impression that after just a few hours of lessons, a professional athlete would be able to dominate the sport. Now though, after seeing Chris Cooley’s video, I’m going to have to lengthen that to probably a couple of weeks.

On the Comcast show Redskins Nation, Cooley shared some video of the Redskins playing Ultimate Frisbee. They were, in a word, terrible. They could only throw backhands and even those were what I’d call a ‘BBQ backhand’ – basically, a throw you’d see some amateur throw during a family BBQ. Obviously this makes sense, as most of them have probably never thrown a frisbee before. But I always assumed natural athletes would just pick it up. If you want some comparison to people who play the sport a lot – check out this video:

But if you prefer to just think of the sport as a joke, listen to this song, and forget everything I just wrote.