Ultimate Frisbee: the new American professional sport? | Launderer report

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    It’s been discussed in the news, on ESPN, and even on Jimmy Fallon – if you still haven’t heard of it, you probably aren’t paying attention.

    The newest professional sport in the United States is loaded with the stigma of drug use … but not because of the juice. It is a sport that struggles to secure a television contract although it is more popular and played more often among Americans, than any other sport other than baseball, basketball, football or soccer, but it’s not ice hockey.

    And it’s a sport that was born and raised in America and has generations of heritage in this country, but it’s not lacrosse.

    Any idea what it is?

    To give up?

    It is Ultimate Frisbee.

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    One of the most interesting aspects of the history of the Ultimate Frisbee is the extent of misconceptions surrounding its past. The sport is half a century old, although most people don’t know it. The game doesn’t come from the sunny shores of California, but from the cold northeast, having been imagined in a parking lot in New Jersey. Ask a random passerby, and they’ll probably guess it was invented by stoned, lazy college kids, but it’s also wrong: It was invented by nerdy, bookish high school kids whose studies excluded college sports. And while some might scoff that it has nothing to do with mainstream popular sport, they would be wrong: The ultimate first varsity game was between Rutgers and Princeton, a hundred years to the day after the first game of interuniversity football – and between the same teams.

    And in addition, just like football, America now has the only professional league in sports.

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    Called the AUDL — American Ultimate Disc League; “Frisbee” is a registered trademark of Wham-O – this new professional league has eight teams scattered across the Northeast, with plans to expand its reach to the South by 2013 and to the West Coast the following year.

    And while the notion might conjure up images of a field full of dogs and barefoot hippies immortalized in Jeremy Piven’s PCU, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    The Philadelphia team play their games in over 75,000 seats at Franklin Field. The Detroit team has taken up residence at the Pontiac Silverdome. This is a true professional league, with sponsors, uniforms, webcast matches and paying fans spending their hard-earned money to watch the ultimate.

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    The only real facet of people’s conceptions of Ultimate is the one that connects sports to college.

    Most of the players play the sport there – typically high school star athletes in track and field, cross country, football and soccer who are either reluctant or unable to meet the all-consuming demands of playing varsity sport full time. at university, switch to the ultimate intramural or intercollegiate frisbee as a substitute.

    But don’t be fooled into thinking these guys are scrubs – they’re the real deal. Teams held in NFL style combine this winter to test 40-yard speed, maximum standing jump height, shuttle running ability and similar components of athletic skills from the trials before settling on the rosters. .

    And what ability some of these players have. At its highest level, the game requires maximum physical effort, including what is called in the game “lay-out” – the full horizontal extension of the body in an attempt to catch or deflect the disc, without holding onto. account of the impact on the ground. to come.

    Think of a cornerback diving deep to stop a pass … see the athleticism and how he totally sells his body to knock the ball over … and then remove him from all his protections and his helmet before you go. ‘it doesn’t hit the turf at full power.

    It’s a provision, and it’s expected of these players every day.

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    Ultimate is played on a field roughly the same size as a soccer field (the end zones are slightly larger). The players, seven on the sidelines, advance the Frisbee between teammates with consistent passes – think basketball, but without dribbling it – while defenders attempt to deflect or intercept those passes.

    Throwing a completed pass to a teammate in the end zone is a score. Throwing an incomplete, out of bounds, deflected or intercepted pass causes an instant turnaround. There are no bottoms in this sport; instead, think about quick movements and changing possession in hockey.

    Ultimate is nominally a non-contact sport, but then again so is basketball. Fouls occur and committing a foul results in a distance penalty for the other team. As in most sports, multiple or egregious fouls can result in ejection.

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    The raw talent and fast pace apparent in these pro videos should be enough to overcome any prejudices even from the most obtuse skeptics.

    But as great as the game is to watch on highlights, it’s even better live.

    Match schedules and streaming links are available at AUDL.com. If you’re near Philly, Buffalo, Hartford, Providence, Detroit, Indianapolis, Columbus, or Louisville, you might just want to shell out some cash on a spring or summer weekend to experience the games for yourself. from a seat right next to the action.

    And yes, gentlemen … this sport has cheerleaders.

    Now there really is no excuse.

Sara R. Cicero