Thursday, November 29, 2012

The spirit of the game

Ultimate Frisbee more than a competitive outlet

By Christian Dilworth, Sports Writer

    You always hear coaches telling their players, “It’s not if you win or lose, it’s if you had fun playing the game.” People often brush this off as a childish notion and proceed to get lost in the competition of athletics, sometimes losing their cool in the process.
    While everyone says they can control it, sports are a physical, mental and emotional battleground where every play can change the game.
    People say fun is an illusion in athletics — Ultimate Frisbee hopes to shatter this misconception.

     Ultimate offers the opportunity to bring people together from all walks of life to play a game where the score seldom matters. Each match is something more than a win or loss — it’s an experience.    Colleges and universities across the nation, Pacific Lutheran University included, have hopped onto the Frisbee bandwagon and have hosted and attended different tournaments across the country. The hope is not only to assert their dominance but to build a community within their team as well. Frisbee isn’t as large as a varsity sport, but it’s making an effort.
    And it’s picking up steam.
    At a Thanksgiving tournament in Seattle, the Turkey Bowl, there was no shortage of friendliness between the eight randomly selected teams and 120 participants.
    The goal was simple: play four games and have a Thanksgiving dinner.
    Games were played on four separate fields. Teams won and lost by large and small margins alike. The winning teams were excited, as expected. The losing teams were also excited — a little surprising.
    None of the teams cared about their record, instead focusing on their love of the game. Oh, and food.
    It’s not as significant they were having fun, but that they were legitimately enjoying each other’s company.
    “Good jobs” and collective gasps flew from all the teams, and often times it wasn’t for their own team.
“I’m really glad that there are so many ways to enjoy [Ultimate],” one player said in passing. “Between hat leagues, pickup, tournaments and just being with friends, there is always a good time waiting to be had.”
PLU established its own Ultimate Frisbee team eight years ago. The team has since turned into a family of students with one common interest: Ultimate.
    One strange thing about the Frisbee team pertaining to campus is the difference of mascot. While PLU takes pride in their Lutes, the Ultimate team takes the name of the Reign.
    Despite not sharing a mascot, the team still takes pride in their school. They attend tournaments under PLU’s name and represent this university with nothing less than pride.
    Most tournaments are hosted by NCAA Division I schools so competition is often fiercer than typical pickup. But the Reign has proven that it can hang with the big dogs.
    The Reign has topped schools such as Montana University, the University of Idaho, Washington State University, Gonzaga, Montana State, Boise State and Portland University this year alone.
    One thing that the veterans of the Reign emphasize, along with other organizations around the Pacific Northwest and the country, is the spirit of the game.
    Teams are rewarded discs for being the winner of a spirit bracket, which consists of the bottom teams of a tournament. It is a way of creating a reward for giving your all, even when there is no hope of being number one, number two or even number three.
    This is what Ultimate was meant to be. It doesn’t matter if you finish first — it’s how much fun you had getting there.

    *Editor’s note: Christian Dilworth is a member of Ultimate Frisbee.