Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


June 27, 2013

The spirit for Ultimate: Frisbee soaring as a team sport


“The sport is getting bigger and bigger,” said Moynihan, standing in bare feet during a spring season practice at Upper Shawsheen Field off Burnham Road.

A “cutter,” as the position is called, Moynihan is responsible for running downfield to try to get open for the “handlers,” or the people in the “back of the pack,” who start the plays.

Howard Cosell, the famous sportscaster, once described Ultimate Frisbee as a cross between soccer, basketball and football.

“But unlike those sports, there is no referee,” Moynihan said. “Players are honor-bound to call their own fouls. ... And their reward? Nothing, save the joy of competition — a refreshing reminder of what sports is meant to be.”

It’s that mentality that drew Moynihan, and many other players, to the sport. Participants say Ultimate Frisbee attracts a community of athletes who aren’t in it for their own gain.

Moynihan’s favorite part? Something known as the “Spirit of the Game.”

“The whole concept, that it’s self-refereed, so you have to have integrity to make your own calls,” she said. “The people who play Ultimate have that integrity and are willing to make those calls.”

The Spirit of the Game is central to Ultimate Frisbee and is something nearly everyone involved in the sport talks about.

While it is codified in USA Ultimate’s rules and regulations, Spirit of the Game, or SOTG, is pretty vague. It involves statements like: “Treat others as you would want to be treated, “Be generous with praise,” and, finally, “Have fun.”

Carter Ishihara, 17, said he enjoys that social aspect.

“Sportsmanship, fun,” he said. “The teams are nice. It’s laid-back. It’s not stressful.”

During tournaments, the largest trophy awarded to any player is the Spirit of the Game award, given to players who exhibit the utmost respect for their opponents, their teammates and the game in general.

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