Ultimate (sport)

Ultimate, originally known as ultimate Frisbee, is a non-contact team game played by players with a flying disc, flung by a human. Ultimate was developed in 1968 by a group of students at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey.[5] Although ultimate resembles many traditional sports in its athletic requirements, it is unlike most sports due to its focus on self-officiating, even at the highest levels of competition.[6] The term Frisbee, often used to generically describe all flying discs, is a registered trademark of the Wham-O toy company, and thus the sport is not formally called "ultimate Frisbee", though this name is still in common casual use. Points are scored by passing the disc to a teammate in the opposing end zone. Other basic rules are that players must not take steps while holding the disc, and interceptions, incomplete passes, and passes out of bounds are turnovers. Rain, wind, or occasionally other adversities can make for a testing match with rapid turnovers, heightening the pressure of play.

Ultimate
Highest governing bodyWorld Flying Disc Federation
Nicknames
  • ultimate Frisbee
  • ultimate disc
  • flatball
Characteristics
ContactNo
Team membersGrass: 7/team; indoor: 5/team; beach: 5/team
(sometimes fewer or more)
Mixed genderIn some competitions and most leagues
EquipmentFlying disc (disc, Frisbee)
Presence
OlympicRecognized by International Olympic Committee;[1][2] eligible for 2028 Olympics.[3][4]
World Games1989 (invitational), 2001–present[3]

From its beginnings in the American counterculture of the late 1960s, ultimate has resisted empowering any referee with rule enforcement. Instead, it relies on the sportsmanship of players and invokes the "spirit of the game" to maintain fair play.[7] Players call their own fouls, and dispute a foul only when they genuinely believe it did not occur. Playing without referees is the norm for league play but has been supplanted in club competition by the use of "observers" or "game advisors" to help in disputes, and the professional league employs empowered referees.

In 2012, there were 5.1 million ultimate players in the United States.[8] Ultimate is played across the world in pickup games and by recreational, school, club, professional, and national teams at various age levels and with open, women's, and mixed divisions.

The United States wins most of the world titles, but not all of them. US teams won four out of five divisions in the 2014 world championship,[9] and all divisions in 2016 competitions between national teams[10][11] (both grass).