Introduction by Tom Kennedy and Keynote Speech by Dan “Stork” Roddick at the Ultimate (Frisbee) 50th Anniversary Dinner in San Diego, CA, October 19, 2018. What a game. What a life.
Dan “Stork” Roddick is a friend and mentor and is widely considered the Godfather of Frisbee. Stork is in all of the frisbee hall of fames (Ultimate, Disc Golf, Freestyle, and Frisbee), has been playing and growing the sport for more than 50 years, and is still actively involved in playing, growing, and guiding the direction of the future of frisbee.
Stork was tasked with writing the section on Spirit of the Game which became part of the rules of ultimate in the 1970’s. I reached out to Stork to ask him more about how the idea of Spirit first came about about below is his response to that question, and a video I filmed of Stork in 2011 talking about the Origins of Spirit. Enjoy!
25th May 2014
Day 3 was spent in preparation for the upcoming tournament which starts in a day. The teams had two session of Ultimate as usual. The morning was spent doing the drills that was part of the curriculum. In the evening however the coaches had the freedom to devise their own training plan according to what the coaches thought was needed for their team. Many teams choose to run drills that ended in scrimmage with another team. The afternoon was spent painting T-shirts that would serve as jerseys.
If you aren’t familiar with the sport of Ultimate; you should read this post on understanding the sport. There are many reasons why you should consider playing my favorite sport. I’ll try to outline a few compelling ones here and see if I can get you to try it. Once you try it you’re going to be hooked! (I can already hear you mumbling about how you have played cricket, basketball or football for years now and there is no reason to pick up another sport!) Ultimate is fun Ultimate is an immensely enjoyable sport, regardless of the level of play. Every year, thousands of people try out this sport and have fun playing it because it is truly uplifting. It is currently played in over 80 countries and is already a part of the World Games and is looking good to be included in the Olympics soon!
What is Ultimate? How does the sport work?
Wikipedia ‘defines’ Ultimate as a team sport played with a flying disc. The object of the game is to score points by passing the disc to a player in the opposing end zone, similar to an end zone in American football. Players may not run with the disc, and must keep a pivot while holding the disc.
As with trying to understand any new sport, it is important to wrap your head around the basic rules. I’ll try to keep it succinct for the sake of the broader audience. The best way for anyone new to learn and interpret the rules is to get out on the field and start playing the game.
Dan “Stork” Roddick, who was a player in the first college ultimate game in 1972, talks about the origins of Spirit of the Game and how he came to write the words that we still use today to define spirit.
From USA Ultimate’s definition:
Ultimate has traditionally relied upon a spirit of sportsmanship which places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate adverse conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting of opposing players, dangerous aggression, intentional fouling, or other ‘win-at-all-costs’ behavior are contrary to the spirit of the game and must be avoided by all players.
In his first post on Ultimate Rob, Stephen Winters shares with us a free flowing poem of sorts, roughly titled “What I Like Most About Ultimate”. He definitely captures the spirit of ultimate in his post. Look for more from Stephen as he will hopefully become a regular contributor!
I’m often asked by players who have just started playing ultimate if I have any tips for how they can get better. I have answered this question enough that I felt it was worth posting it as an article. Leave a comment and let me know what your best tip is for a newbie!
Throw, throw, throw. Either on your own or with a friend. The best way to improve your throw (and the muscles used for throwing) is to simply go out and throw. Be aware of your body and don’t push it so you get hurt. Figure out what technique works best for you for certain throws and work to improve your throw – if there’s something going weird with it, ask for advice. Keep working on it…you can never stop learning!
I was inspired to write this today because in thinking back over my roughly 10 year ultimate career thus far, I got thinking about the moment that really changed the course of my game. It wasn’t hard to remember that day, nor was it hard to remember the advice given to me. Advice that would both humble and inspire me to work at my game with such dedication and passion that I would surprise even myself with how good I would become at throwing.
Stressing mutual respect for the other team is at the heart of Spirit of the Game. Coaches should encourage players to respect the opposing team and encourage a respectful approach to conflict resolution. Showing respect to other players is often accomplished through small actions. Some examples include speaking about disagreements in a respectful manner, complimenting an opponent on a great play, and shaking hands after a game.