The Legitimacy of Ultimate

By Danny Emerman (Sports Correspondent). 

The “Ultimate isn’t even a sport, bro” crowd is now eating crow in the argument regarding the validity of the game.

Starting next year, students who play Ultimate will receive varsity letters. From the unanimous School Committee vote, Sharon Ultimate has attained varsity status in the SHS athletic department.

If that doesn’t put an end to the debate, I will. Ultimate is a sport and I’m surprised it took so long for SHS to break Ultimate out of its shell as a club.

If a sport is an organized activity involving some sort of physical exertion or skill with competition, then Ultimate is indeed a sport, by definition.

Ultimate has the non-stop pace of soccer and the precision of basketball. Flashes of elite athleticism are put on display when players lay out for the disc.

Yet according to a recent poll of over 60 Sharon High students, only ⅔ people consider Ultimate as a sport. Main reasons cited against it include the lack of referees and professional league.

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Admittedly, Ultimate lacks the presence of a mainstream professional league, but so does lacrosse.

“It’s more of a hobby,” junior Brett Caplan explained after he answered “no.”

While many casual Ultimate players can be found tossing the disc on an open patch of grass, the competition is what makes it more than a hobby. Some classify golf and sailing as hobbies, but both are sports at SHS and played in the Olympics.

Mr. Christiansen, the Ultimate Program Consultant, challenges naysayers to experience the game before they judge it. The wellness teacher had previously been the Ultimate Director, overseeing every team. Now, his title has changed to “Consultant,” but his role is the same.

“Come and watch a game. Just come and watch our A team, essentially our varsity players,” Christiansen said.

“I think they’d change their minds if they really come out and understand what the game is all about. How much training it takes, how much athleticism, endurance, hand-eye coordination, timing, jumping is necessary.”

Aidan Arnold, a varsity baseball player, says that although ultimate players need to be athletic, the game should not be considered a sport.

“Ultimate is an activity played at picnics that requires athletic ability, but it’s not a sport,” the junior said.

Arnold later clarified that he defines a sport as “organized athletic competition.” He admits that based on his definition, he “pretzeled himself” and reversed his opinion after thinking about the topic briefly.

Christiansen says that recognition is a “huge step for our program.”

“It’s our eighth season and I think it’s well-deserved. Our players for all these years have played hard. They have really shown the equivalent of every other athlete in other sports. Recognition is great and going forward, I hope it helps the program expand.”

Photo Credit Max Avratin

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