This past weekend, I traveled up to Shediac, NB for my second year at the Parlee Beach Ultimate Tournament, and boy was it fun. Our team, Lube City Allstars, came in seeded 8th, and after 7 grueling games, broke seed to finish 6th out of 24 teams. On top of it, we won the Spirit Award out of all of the teams at the tournament.
Ultimate is an amazing sport that I have been playing for 8 years, and the overarching rule for the sport is Spirit of the Game, better known outside of Ultimate as Sportsmanship. The sport is self-officiated, which means there are no officials or referees (Regional and National level tournaments have “observers”) to call any penalties, fouls, and violations. Any disagreement is discussed typically by the two or more players involved, and occasionally whomever had the best perspective on the play to determine the outcome.
Because of the Spirit of the Game, most tournaments will give out the Spirit Award for the team that best demonstrates not only great spirit or enthusiasm on the field in regards to the game, sport and rules, but also off the field as well. Over the years, I have seen off field spirit as gathering in a circle to talk about the game, passing out individual spirit/MVP items such as stickers, trinkets, baby tree to offset carbon, etc. and also various “Spirit Games” where teams circle up, usually no two teammates standing next to each other, and then play an elimination type game to determine a winner.
I have played on teams that consistently won the Spirit Award, and I have played on teams that have consistently been the furthest from the Spirit Award for tournaments, but thankfully the former greatly out numbers the latter. Sportsmanship is such a key integral part of every sport, either individually or on a large team sports such as Football or Rugby. Without good sportsmanship, a game can really weigh down on a player, and throw the entire game or even tournament down the tubes for everyone.
This year was so much more fun than the previous year I spent at Parlee, and one of the reasons was our team spirit and pride throughout the weekend. Last year, our team became very negative throughout the weekend when points and games weren’t going out way, but this year even our losses seemed to be positive experiences. We actually went 3-4 over the tournament, however being in a “Power Pool” meant playing 3 of the toughest 7 other teams at the tournament the first day. We were in every single game, and fought hard for every single point, all while keeping our heads up.
Some people may think they need to do that by berating the other team, using the rules against the other team, or even cheating. I am always glad to not be on a team like that. What experience is fun for anyone in a situation like that? You don’t have fun, your teammates aren’t having fun, and sure enough the other team isn’t having fun. Great sportsmanship can take great games and make them ever more memorable, and ever more amazing.
Every sport has their little quirks and fun spots, but there is something about Ultimate that always makes me feel great about the sport I play. No matter how hard you may work, and how dedicated and determined you are, a point may not go your way. The beauty of it is to watch, learn, pick yourself up off of the ground, and get back out there to get that next point. Even let the other team know “great throw” or “great cut.” The community often outweighs the game. Keep that in mind the next time you step onto the court, field, ice, pitch. You just may have an amazing game of your life.
Question: How do you try and promote sportsmanship throughout games you play?