Ultimate Frisbee: PSAL Material, Club Status
December 4th, 2003
When speaking of sports, what comes to mind? Basketball, we think. Football. Soccer.
Most of us would not classify ultimate as a sport, because we do not know what it is or we assume it is merely a non-stress, “throw around the frisbee” activity. The Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), agrees with this view—they do not recognize ultimate frisbee as an official PSAL sport. But it deserves to be one.
Like any other sport, ultimate has tournaments and games. During a game, players must get a frisbee from one end of the field to the other, a total of 70 yards. We have to overcome aggressive defense and pressure, strategically tossing the frisbee from one player to another.
I am on the girls’ ultimate frisbee team, the Sticky Fingers. I know firsthand the difficulties and rewards of the game. Even during small scrimmages, if the disc falls into my hands, I become uptight because of the growing tension. I know that to make a good toss I have to rise above my nervousness, stress and adrenaline.
It’s not enough just to throw accurately and quickly— you must prevent the other team from intercepting your throw as well. If the frisbee drops or gets interrupted, the opposing team gains possession. With the same strategy, intensity, and physical exertion as other sports, why is ultimate frisbee a PSAL outcast?
All sports require unique warm-ups and practices. For us ultimate athletes, a few hours of practice typically consists of several miles of running, two hundred leg raises and crunches, bunny hops, and many other frisbee drills. The following day, we boast of pains and aches all over the body.
I remember my first time running up stairs at Ultimate practice. We raced from the first floor to the ninth, and then the first floor to eighth, first to seventh, first to sixth, etc. Between each run, we did crunches and push-ups.
When I finally finished, my face was burning beet red and my heart was beating as fast as if I’d been racing. The sweat on my shirt had me feeling like a swimmer instead of an Ultimate player. The ache in my calves made it difficult to even stand.
Anyone too sore and exhausted to walk up stairs after a practice, as I was, should be thought of as an athlete. Any team requiring such physical performance from its athletes should be considered a sports team. Ultimate frisbee players should be appreciated for their athletic ability, and be recognized as a team by the PSAL.
On any team, it takes more than players to hold a game. Equipment costs money, and the PSAL only allocates offical PSAL teams funding. Even with alumni donations, Stuy ultimate teams are far from having enough money.
As ultimate is not a PSAL team, jerseys, frisbees, and other expenses must be purchased through more creative methods. Players resort to selling candy. We must each make a profit of $288, to keep our team afloat.
“All of the players put a lot of effort and dedication into [ultimate],” said senior Melissa Chu, a member of the Sticky Fingers. “We truly love the sport.”
With dedication, talent, and all the other essential qualifications, ultimate is in essence a proper sports team. Why does the PSAL continue to deny us the recognition and funding we deserve?