Ultimate Frisbee as a NCAA Varsity Sport
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Ultimate frisbee is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and due to the special qualities of the game it presents a new opportunity for the NCAA. The high paced, incredibly skill intensive game of Ultimate lends itself well to high level sport, and the current professional level of the sport will be greatly expanded by the introduction of Varsity Ultimate.
Currently, the sport of Ultimate Frisbee has a huge college presence, with over 20,000 athletes on over 700 teams, two league divisions (div I and div III), as well as an established non-profit organisation running the events (USA Ultimate). It also has a huge following, with the finals being aired on ESPN2 and ESPNU, and USA ultimate signing a 3-year deal with ESPN2 in May of 2017. The sport of Ultimate also has a place at the world games, is officially recognised by the USA Olympic Committee, and the WFDF (world flying disc federation) is recognised by the International Olympic Committee.
The sport of ultimate frisbee is a unique sport and presents many opportunities for expansion of the NCAA. First and foremost, this sport is Co-Ed, and this allows for a completely unique experience in the world of college sports. This also falls in line with your current Emerging sports program, as it allows for upcoming female athletes, as well as new male athletes to share the field where they would not be able to previously.
Second, the incredibly competitive and athletic nature of the sport makes it a strong candidate for higher level sports. The athletic prowess of the athletes at a high level, including fast sprint speeds, high vertical jumping ability, the ability to “layout” or jump horizontally to make plays, and also the inherent skill level needed to throw and catch the disc, all lead to incredibly thrilling and entertaining viewership.
Third, the revolutionary refereeing system, which could be seen as a challenge, can actually be a major benefactor in the consideration for the NCAA. The current system is one where it is self officiated by the players, with on field observers assisting in times of conflict or disagreement. This might seem disadvantageous at first, with long stoppage times for foul discussion, however with a good field observer presence, as well as well coached teams, it could help alleviate the conflict between referees and players evident in many other professional sports.
Fourth, the relatively low cost of the sport is a major advantage for its consideration. The only set up costs of the sport is the frisbees to play with, and the field to play on. Currently, even the professional leagues utilise college football fields, altered with cones to mark out end zones. If introduced as an NCAA sanctioned sport, the only cost of putting on games would be that of either providing cones, or repainting the field for a new end zone.
Finally, the already existent organisation running the college scene would make it painless for implementation into the NCAA schedule. The current organisation USA Ultimate, is a non-profit organisation with the goal of building awareness for the sport, and with the NCAA’s help, it will be able to run the events as they already have thus far, with better environments and more funding to continue helping to grow the sport. Also, the impact of a Varsity college scene for the sport would then greatly enhance the size of the sport, and could provide the spark that pushes professional ultimate from the semi-pro state it currently is at, to the fully professional level it clearly can be.
In conclusion, the sport of Ultimate will present many great opportunities to provide a fresh sporting experience for the fans of college sports. It will be co-ed, provide incredible athletic displays, remove player-referee conflicts, and would cost little to move to the college level. The move to Varsity level would also grow the sport of ultimate at the professional level, bringing in new excited fans to the current leagues. Finally, the move would allow many prospective college athletes to be given an opportunity to engage with their sport at a high level, and the ability to fulfil their athletic dreams.
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