Don’t Worry, Bee Happy

To the Editor:

In 1967, Joel Silver introduced the game of ultimate frisbee to Columbia high school in Maplewood, NJ, and two years later, in 1969, the first competitive team was formed and a new sport was born.

Ultimate doesn’t have referees or positions. There are just seven people on a team trying to move a frisbee into an end zone without it hitting the ground and without players moving once they catch it. These unique aspects of the game give it a special flavor that few sports can match.

This style is kept perpetually alive through what is known as the spirit of the game. Ever since the game’s origins, ultimate has carried with it an emphasis on spirit. The spirit of the game has been defined many ways by many people, but its essential meaning refers to a common knowledge amongst players that the only reason to be playing is to have fun. This understanding ensures that all players have respect for each other and keep a friendly attitude on the field.

Most conventional sports have referees who function as mediators between two teams that are going to battle. In ultimate, there are no referees and no real positions because there do not need to be. There doesn’t need to be a referee ensuring that rule 18 B of the 11th edition rulebook gets enforced. Players call their own fouls when necessary and fill in positions on the field where needed. Thus, ultimate works because players keep in mind the spirit of the game so that a disc can make it down field and so that games can work peacefully. The ability to keep the game peaceful is a truly phenomenal feat when taking into consideration that there is nothing more tempting than floating plastic. No game has ever seen so many participants dive face first into the ground just to make a disc barely out of reach slowly stop spiraling in their hand.

Ultimate players truly go all out; this seemingly peace-loving game for hippies and dogs develops a new twist when players layout over the tops of one another for a disc. As the game gets more and more intense, the spirit of the game then becomes more important as players can’t help but get competitive and heated about play.

The name ‘hand candy’ has been applied to frisbees, and anyone who has ever leisurely tossed a disc on a beautiful summer day knows how well this term applies. The aerodynamics of a frisbee fascinate people and automatically make them happy just by defying gravity with their lofty flight. Thus, the attitude of ultimate frisbee is wrapped around the frisbee itself.

Even when a disc flies fast and hard, it maintains its seemingly calm and peaceful flight. The game always has and always will have the same feel as a game of backyard football. Players want to win, but not that badly, they try hard, but only as hard as they want to and they compete for themselves because it’s fun.

Ultimate is a simple game that breaks away from the overly complicated world of sports and the world in general. An ultimate player knows to do what feels good and spread that feeling by running around with friends and toys. To learn more, visit

Jesse Bernstein

Class of 2005