When you play ultimate, you will hear a lot about spirit of the game. It means different things to different people but all ultimate players will agree that spirit is an important aspect of the game and is essential to ensuring the game works as a self-refereed sport.
At its core, spirit of the game is about respecting your opponents and the rules. This ensures that everyone on the field has a good time.
The Bare Essentials
Spirit of the game has inspired some hilarious moments, but being silly is not a requirement for ultimate. What is required is that you honour the four points below. They are essential rules that every ultimate player must follow no matter what level you are playing at.
- Respect. Respect your opponent and their point of view, even if it isn't the same as yours, and even if you don't agree with it.
- Honesty. Be honest when you make or see a call in a game. Don't cheat or lie for an advantage.
- Sportsmanship. Compete to win, but do it with the highest level of sportsmanship.
- Inclusivity. Be welcoming and inclusive to teammates and opponents regardless of ability, age, gender, sexual orientation, belief system, etc.
- FUN. Remember you're playing to have fun, and so is everyone else.
Spirit helps everyone enjoy the game of ultimate. And some teams are AWESOME at letting their spirit shine. Every team is different, but if your team wants to show your spirit in more ways than just playing a good, clean game of ultimate, maybe the below will inspire you:
- Bring snacks to share with the other team;
- Play a short game with the other team after your game of ultimate;
- Create cheers and sing them to the other team;
- Wear creative uniforms or costumes;
- If you are going for drinks and food after the game, invite your opponents.
Spirit in the Rules
The Spirit of the Game clause in the rules states:
“Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate unsportsmanlike conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional infractions or other 'win-at-all-costs' behavior are contrary to the spirit of the game and must be avoided by all players.”
This clause represents a lot of what ultimate is all about: having fun, getting exercise, making new friends, and helping others enjoy the game. It’s not about winning at all costs. Dangerous and overly aggressive play is not only frowned upon, but is contrary to the values of the sport.
VUL Spirit Scores
After every game, when captains submit game scores to the VUL, they also answer a few questions to provide a "spirit score" for their opponent. The VUL Spirit Scoring System is a modified version of the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) system, customized to be more suitable for an ongoing league (the WFDF system is more suitable for tournaments).
Captains assess the other team in four categories using a 4-point scale (Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent):
- Timeliness - For example: Their team was ready to start on time. They kept to time limits during the game, and help the game end on time.
- Rules Knowledge & Use - For example: Players understood the rules, or were willing to learn them. They shared their rules knowledge respectfully. They were willing to believe calls were made in good faith. Disagreements were handled quickly and not escalated into arguments. The captain helped resolve disputes (if any).
- Safe & Clean Play - For example: Players avoided fouling, contact and dangerous plays. The captain addressed concerns about dangerous players on their team. All players exhibited good sportsmanship.
- Positive Attitude & Communication - For example: They communicated without derogatory or aggressive language. They complimented us on our good plays. The captain was approachable. They were willing to clarify any misunderstandings on the sideline. They left an overall positive impression during the game, and after the game.