Ultimate Frisbee is an up and coming sport in the realm of athletics. For those of you who don’t know, ultimate is played on a field similar to that of a soccer field. Seven players from each team will participate at once, trying to score in the opposite team’s end zone. The disc cannot touch the ground, nor can players run with the disc while they are holding it. First team to 15 points or highest score in the 90 minute time limit of the game wins.
The sport’s presence is most strongly seen at the college and high school level, though these programs are not considered part of the NCAA. There are club level teams of ultimate for both genders, but professionally, there is only a men’s program called the AUDL. These programs pay the athletes nothing at all or cover the costs of travel. The fact that these programs barely have the funds to cover travel fees alludes to the problems the sport has had with recognition on a national level.
Due to the fact that Ultimate Frisbee is a grassroots sport, it is a prime example of how utilizing social media can boost a sport to the national stage. The first ultimate Frisbee teams were formed in 1969, making the sport 48 years old this year. In the past 48 years, the sport has grown under an established organization, Ultiworld. Through this organization, articles and photos are developed for followers and fans of the sport to read and share. Their main mode of communication other than the website that houses all the information, is social media. It provides a simple, yet effective way to communicate with the entire community and showcase important and relevant topics.
Just this past Memorial Day weekend, Ultiworld and the Division I collegiate programs came together for Division I College Championships in Columbus, Ohio. This event is the culmination of an 8 month long season that every collegiate team partakes in. Throughout the year, rankings have been published and projected through all the social media outlets of the organization, but the action of the weekend never occurs like it’s supposed to. To make sure all fans across the country can keep up with the action and play by plays, Ultiworld has developed an Ultiworld Live account through Twitter. With this, fans can keep up with every game of the weekend through the account. Employees tweet around the clock to ensure each score is being posted for the 100+ games that occur. Fans can refresh and see how their teams are doing, even who scored the point. Plays of the game, quotes from players and coaches, and photos of the action are sent out through their other accounts for followers who want information other than scores. The organization has really tuned into what their followers want.
Ultiworld is not just a passive organization. They take feedback from followers and listen to what individuals have to say over social media. Like never before, the College Nationals tournament provided equitable live coverage of the women’s and men’s division games. This was based upon the voices of the ultimate community who wrote letters, signed petitions, and argued their stance over social media. These posts provided a base for fans to stand upon and fight for what they believe is right. The ultimate community has become the sport on the forefront of gender equity (equal in relation to the other party), not just gender equality (equal offerings). In other words, the differences between equity and equality can be explained as having two people of different heights standing next to a fence. Instead of offering both people a step to stand on, you would offer the smaller person a step to make them the same height as the other person. Personally, I believe that the sport would not be in the place where it is at if it wasn’t for the community voicing its opinion through social media for the parent organization to listen to. This is what makes ultimate such a unique sport.
I might be a nerd about ultimate and I might be really invested in the growth of the sport, but ultimate is really a sport that has grown with the baby boomer and millennial generations. This sport has listened to the voice of its players, and developed from their investment. Social media has been an integral piece to that puzzle and as an avid member in the ultimate community I am excited to see where it takes the sport!