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15 September 2015
SPIRIT of the GAME
What I love most about non-contact sports is that if you're doing it right, blood will still be shed. Perhaps I should stop yelling, "Sacrifice your body!" from the sidelines. Especially since the team I visited recently was doing just that. Within minutes of my arrival, a player was bleeding heavily from his nose. Diagnosis? - definitely broken.
Sports has always been my absolute favorite to photograph, but this was my first time shooting Ultimate Frisbee. With no clouds to block the blazing, mid-day sun and players being exhausted from previous tournament games, it was hardly ideal. But, that didn't stop me from having a blast and cheering for people I hardly knew. Apparently, that loud smacking sound everyone heard wasn't someone's hand slapping down a frisbee. Rather, someone's face.
Ultimiate Frisbee was the kind of activity often made fun of in years past due to lack of popularity (similar to Parkour). That is, until people realized these enthusiasts were in better shape to last an apocalyptic nightmare than anyone else. Larger, well-respected organizations have taken notice as well. The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) is finally being taken seriously with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizing Ultimate Frisbee as an official sport (though, it won't be in the 2016 Olympics). It's been welcomed on our school campuses around the world for decades and is now entering the professional arena.
The great thing about the lower divisions of this sport is the concept of self-regulation. When a dispute occurs, I was taught never to argue with an official. But, in the case of most Ultimate games, that option doesn't even exist. There are no such person(s) regulating the game. Players rely on each other to keep things honest, calling it the "Spirit of the Game." Fouls, out-of-bounds, injuries - they are always discussed a moment after they occur and it never takes more than a few seconds to conclude. This sport demands a strong level of sportsmanship by not relying on external parties to make important decisions.
I didn't expect to be as inspired as I was. I dream of a working world where this same type of self-regulation takes place. The honor system, not the face-breaking part. Although, I do believe some people would be enormously improved if they were punched in the face once or twice. (Don't pretend like you didn't just think of a few people.) I've worked with several business owners who have no sense of moral code. They were classic cases of out for what they can get, asking me questions like, "What can I get away with?" or "What's the minimum I can give?" They valued little contact with customers, minimal benefits to employees, quantity products over quality, superficial comments rather than substance.
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Intrigued about Ultimate Frisbee? Check out these highlights:
Photos by: J. Allen