New sports, like “Ultimate,” could help your community score economic goals


By Charlotte Wilson

As the number and variety of competitive athletic events expands, communities may repurpose their recreation facilities or build new ones to attract events that grow the local economy. Consider, for example, Ultimate Frisbee* or “Ultimate,” as it’s known, since “Frisbee” is trademarked by Wham-O.When you hear that, what immediately pops into your head? College kids tossing a disc on the quad between classes? Dog agility competitions?  Throwing discs into metal cages on a disc golf course? I had no idea what Ultimate was until 2010. However, after almost six years of playing and one year of coaching, when I hear the word Ultimate I think about grueling late night practices, playing tournaments in blizzards, hail, and six-inch-deep mud and creating life-long friendships in the most accepting, fun, and hardworking community I know.Ultimate2-webUltimate is a fast-paced, physically demanding sport that combines aspects of soccer, basketball, and football together. The field is the size of a soccer field, with two end zones. Each team fields seven players. Competitors run into position but, once a player catches the disc, she can’t run and may only pivot on her foot. Ultimate is self-officiated. Players are responsible for calling fouls on themselves. While highly competitive play is encouraged, it is never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play.Over Memorial Day weekend, I helped coach the University of Michigan’s Women’s Ultimate Team, Flywheel, at College Nationals in Raleigh, NC. This tournament is the highest collegiate level of play since Ultimate is not recognized by the NCAA. Flywheel defeated archrival Ohio State during the tournament, which was ultimately won by Stanford.As Ultimate’s popularity continues to grow there will be demand for field space to host tournaments like the nationals. Bringing in hundreds of players can provide an economic stimulus for cities and towns since, in addition to renting out field space, Ultimate teams also seek accommodations, restaurants, and night life. So, while building your next recreation complex, consider multipurpose fields that can accommodate Ultimate – it might just help brand your community