The Sun, Sand and a Flying disc: Ultimate Frisbee


The sun had set long ago drowning its fiery flames in the bay yonder. Yet the sands of Elliot’s were scorched with the trailing blazes set by fourteen players as a flying disc whizzed past almost indiscernibly, slashing at the winds, forcing its way through. This is Ultimate Frisbee and it is the most happening beach sport in Chennai.

Ultimate, dubbed as the thinking man’s sport, attracts the smartest athletes from various walks of life. It had its origins among school children in New Jersey and Massachusetts in the United States. It is played passionately by millions of people in more than forty countries around the world. The roots of the game in India come from leading management institutes like the Indian Institute Of Management, Ahmedabad and the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad where this sport is popular.

Ultimate is termed a limited-contact or non contact coed team sport. If a player physically interferes with an opposing player, a foul may be called. The flying disc is used to score points by passing it to a player in the opposing end zone. An offensive and defensive team of seven each make up the fourteen players required to play the game on an area roughly the size of a football pitch. The last 25 yards are known as the ‘endzone’, with goals scored by passing the disc to a teammate inside it. Players cannot run with the disc, and may move only one foot while holding the disc (termed pivoting). On receiving the disc it must be released within ten seconds. If the disc touches the ground or if an opponent catches it, the possession is lost.

The cardinal spirit of the game is that Ultimate is self officiated. No referees are present and players sort out their differences in sportsman spirit. At higher levels of play referees called ‘observers’ are often present. Observers only make calls when appealed to by one of the teams, at which point the result is binding. Sportsmanship, respect for other players, fair play, and having fun are considered central aspects of play, even when competition becomes intense. This is called “spirit of the game.” This philosophy instils a unique sense of mutual respect and unity among all players.

Chakra, Winners of Chennai Heat, 2010
Chakra, Winners of Chennai Heat, 2010

The Chennai Heat Frisbee tournament in October 2010 saw three days of ultimate action packed, sand scorching games. Yours truly was there with her beloved team The Flying Frauds and asked ex-Gangaster Nishanth, her Frisbee loving, disc throwing, lighter by ten pounds captain, what he felt like at the end of it. Pat came the reply “Thank you Ultimate. I saved my face at the dietician’s clinic today”.

The next big Frisbee tourney, The Fly Baba, will be held in early 2011 at Kodaikanal. So go, get ultimate.

P.S Nishanth Radhakrishnan is an IITM alumnus (DD from Aerospace Engg.) and continues to visit the jungle when he finds the time. If you are interested in knowing more about the sport or joining The Flying Frauds, a beaming Nishanth will answer all your queries at [email protected]

Photo Credits: Nishanth Radhakrishnan and Mary Shalini Vidya (The Flying Frauds)

Written by Ranjini Balan, Correspondent

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