It’s hard to describe ultimate without mentioning SOTG. It informs decisions ultimate players make on and off the field, and creates the ultimate community and culture we know and love. Such is the devotion to spirit of the game that it has its own holiday: International Spirit of the Game day, December 3rd. Promoted by a number of organizations, including ourselves and several of our social partners, I-SOTG Day is a celebration of spirit in ultimate worldwide.
But what is Spirit of the Game, exactly? The organizers of the holiday, including the World Flying Disc Federation, describe it as follows:
“Spirit of the Game is the mindful behavior practiced by players worldwide prior to, during and after a game. It encompasses attitudes and skills such as good knowledge and application of the rules, fair-mindedness, safe play and spatial awareness, clear and calm communication, and a positive and respectful attitude towards teammates, fans, and opponents, in a mutual effort to protect the basic joy of play.”
So there you have it. In celebration of SOTG in ultimate, we compiled a very non-exhaustive list of all the ways it makes our lives better, organized loosely by the main principles of SotG.
1. Calling your fouls on your own (though not on yourself). (edit: see clarification/comment by Patrick below!)
2. Self-refereeing. This one almost goes without saying, but the fact that it just works so well is an impressive testament.
3. When more experienced players explain the rules to newer folks without talking down to or patronizing them.
4. Getting an honest hand up off the ground from an opponent that just skied you.
5. The rush to help that occurs anytime anyone gets the slightest injury.
6. Every time someone avoids a bad bid at the expense of what could have been a goal or sweet catch/d.
7. When your opponent trusts your best perspective on an in vs out line call - or you trust them.
8.The solution to a disagreement being a replay of the situation, rather than an argument.
9. When situations are explained to new players so they can learn, rather than always penalizing them for mistakes.
10. When you finish the game, and you had so much fun you forgot who won and who lost.
11. Songs and cheers when the game is over. And let’s not forget the spirit games.
12. The fact that at some tournaments, the trophy and prize for best SOTG team is bigger and better than the championship prize.
13. On a related note, the prestige associated with best costume, which at some tournaments far outweighs the bragging rights afforded to winning.
14. When top-level teams play at party tournaments (famous players: they’re just like us!)
15. The existence of party tournaments...and that there’s a reason that ‘party’ comes first in the name.
16. Spirit circles at the end of games. (And how difficult it is to get anyone to say anything negative during those circles - this isn’t always good, as constructive criticism makes you better, but it does speak to the supportive nature of the game.)
17. High-fiving your opponent after they score a great goal.
18. Talking out a disagreement calmly, and actually getting to see both sides of the story.
19. The willingness of the ultimate community to engage in serious and constructive discussion about issues in the sport and community.
Some instances of spirit defy categorization, so here’s a few more:
20. The capacity of the entire ultimate community to rally around a cause that matters to them - even if it’s for just one person in the group.
21. The ease with which new players are adopted into teams or the community.
22. When high school players coach middle or elementary school teams. Youth ultimate is the foundation of the sport, and the willingness of even the youngest to give back is a testament to how strong SOTG is at every level. (Plus they’re all going to be so good in a few years).
23. How easy it is for ultimate to become your life and the ultimate community to become your family...and how little you find that that bothers you.
So get out there, enjoy International Spirit of the Game Day, give your teammates and opponents a high-five, embrace the spirit, and let us know: what are you best examples of Spirit of the Game in action?
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