Ultimate Frisbee Fever is Thriving in the Sports World

Ultimate Frisbee is catching on fast in local communities, college campuses and around the world. Most Ultimate Frisbee athletes look at the game as a way of life and not just a hobby but a real sport.

In a recent conversation with a captain of a local team he said when they are not practicing together or going to tournaments we just hangout with each other.

Welcome to the vast but mostly invisible sport of Ultimate  Frisbee, a sport that in some ways resembles football or soccer, only without the contact, expensive equipment or trash talking.

While Ultimate Frisbee seldom appears in the media, it’s quickly gaining recognition across the country. The sport has become more athletic and in recent years there has been a push to add the sport to the Olympic line-up.

In 2012 there were 5.1 million Ultimate players in the USA. Ultimate is be played across the world in pickup games and by recreational, school, club, and national teams at various age levels

Ultimate Frisbee game action from an Ultimate freebee tournament in North Carolina/Photo from Wikiped.com
Ultimate Frisbee game action from an Ultimate freebee tournament in North Carolina/Photo from Wikiped.com

and with open, women’s, and mixed tournaments. In 2013 two professional leagues were operating in North America. The 13th biannual national team World Championships were held in Sakai, Japan in July, 2012. USA won the open division, Japan won the women’s tournament, Canada took the mixed and masters’ titles, and the women masters’ event  captured by the USA .

Ultimate{ Frisbee] is every bit as competitive and exciting as any

other sport. Athletes are some times turned off by it because they do not think it’s a ligament sport, but it’s not a hobby at all.

In the Summer of 2011, the sport gained some major exposure in the Evergreen state and popularity when 80 teams came together to play in what was the largest coed tournament at the time at a 60 Acre  Park near Redmond, Washington for what would be called the world’s largest coed Ultimate Frisbee Tournament.

The annual Potlatch Tournament, hosted by the Northwest Ultimate Association, commonly referred to as Disc Northwest, included teams for the United States and Canada. Tournament organizers said that if the world championship weren’t scheduled at the same time in Hawaii teams from all over the globe would have been in attendance at the tournament that year.

Most tournaments on the national level of competition consist of 10 to 30 teams that make up a tournament event. The Potlatch tournament is an exception to the general rule and 30 of the 80 teams come from within Washington  for that tournament. The Northwest Ultimate Association has  3000 players, with 10 last leagues that make up 195 teams, said Mike Karen, Disc Northwest executive director.

Regardless of the level of competition a majority of ultimate Frisbee players point to the “spirit of the game” as common ground that draws them to the sport. Since there are no referees in Ultimate Frisbee, players must keep up their own level of fairness proper play along with calling their own fouls when contact occurs.

Ultimate players find that the sport is a good way to meet people–such as a pickup game at a local park  on a sunny day. Ultimate teams  from as people meet one another and can even be formed in the workplace. A perk of playing ultimate Frisbee is how cheap it is to get involved. All that you needed is a Frisbee and something to mark the field boundaries. Some players wear cheats but it is not required to take part in a game.

Playing ultimate Frisbee even for the most serious athletes is not a very lucrative activity. There is typically no prize money and teams have to pay their own way to and from tournaments and tournament fees. However, that does not matter to the hundreds of thousands of people who play in ultimate Frisbee leagues throughout the country. It’s the love and spirit of the game that they fancy the most.

Sports Concussions No Joking Matter, they need to be taken seriously

Concussions in sports have become a fact of life and a real hot-button issue at all levels of the sports world. A lot of research has been conducted on the subject to get a better understanding of how to make better equipment to make it safer for athletes to compete on the field of play. This is  something that needs to be taken seriously by athletes, coaches and parents because what might seem and look like a simple  blow can kill an athlete. Even hours or days after the blow happens.

A  concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a force delivered to  the head or body causing the brain to shake or rotate  in the skull violently. This injury results in the way the brain operates and functions. There is often change in personality, thinking or physical functioning of the athlete.

The Center of Decease Control estimates 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions occur each year. Some studies done on concussions in sports  tackle  football  this is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75% chance for concussion). While soccer is the most common sport with concussion risk for females (50% chance for concussion) some studies even suggest that females are twice as likely to sustain a concussion as male counterparts.

In 2003  Damon Jones, 16, passed away three days after suffering an injury and losing consciousness during a football game in Portville, N.Y.  His exact cause of death has not been made public. His teammates voted to end the season  two-weeks after his death. Jones’s death raised  lots of attention to the issue of concussions in sports and the media began talking about it on the national  level as it became a major topic of discussion. The Sports Concussion Institute  says 78% of concussions occur during games (as opposed to practices) on the institute website.

Jones is not the first high football player to die from a blow in a football game and he will not be the last based on history of the sport. Just Google sports concussions on the internet and you will find articles, sad stories of youths who suffered concussions while participating in sports. Although research is being conducted to try to make sports safer, for those athletes who take part each year.

Cleared To Play Organization Inc. reports on their website that a 2011 study of U.S. high schools with at least one athletic trainer on staff found that concussions accounted for nearly 15% of all sports related injuries reported to athletic trainers.

A few of the signs trainers, coaches and parents should look for, if they suspect their athlete has a concision, is a headache (85%) and Dizziness (70-80%). These are the most commonly reported symptoms immediately following concussions for injured athletes. It is estimated that 47% of blows go unreported by athletes because of they want to stay in the game and keep playing.

A few months back the NFL was in the news because a Judge had ruled in the players favor in a long ongoing lawsuit over concussions, when a group of former players sued the league. The award handed down from the bench was 765 million and the judge thought that might have been to low of a settlement. A federal judge denied preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement of  concussion claims, fearing it may not be enough to cover 20,000 retired players. U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody then requested more financial analysis from the parties.

Politicians in some states have introduced bills that would protect athletes who receive concussions while participating in sports activities. All but three states have strong safety laws in place on concussions in youth sports. These laws have been in place since May of 2009. All were designed and  modeled after  Washington State’s groundbreaking Zackery Lvastedt Law.

As a parent of a young athlete medical professionals say to remove the athlete immediately  from practice and games if you suspect your child has a concussion. Make sure the athlete is evaluated by a professional who has a background in concussions. Do not try to elevate the issues yourself. The athlete should not return to the sports activity until he or she is symptom free and have been cleared by a medical professional.

There is no way to completely prevent concussions but keeping equipment well maintained and checked often may help in the prevention of a serious concussion on the field of play or ice rink. The Heads UP campaign by the NFL teaches youths to tackle and block with their heads up and is good advice in helping prevent a concussion in football. So athletes play it safe out there and have a long career in sports. Parents be aware of your resources available on sports concussions and educate your athletes on concussions. Always remember that a concussion of any kind is no joking matter and not worth your child’s life.