FEATURE: No Cramping this Spirit

Written by: Chris Schasse, traveling Software Trainer at JAMF Software & creator of The Break Side

This article was written by a guest writer. The opinions expressed in the post belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Ultimate Project.

The Pacific Northwest has completely reshaped my concept of what an Ultimate Frisbee Tournament can be. If you have ever experienced an Ultimate tournament before, you know that it is quite unlike any other sporting event. First off, it is incredibly physically taxing. You play 4-5 games on both Saturday and Sunday, which equates to roughly 12 hours of total play time in a weekend. On top of this, there is usually a tournament party on Saturday night that rages until the wee hours of the morning. The first games on Sunday morning are typically rough...

 

Secondly, the concept of "Spirit of the Game" permeates throughout tournaments, and not just during the games themselves. Many teams will join together after they compete to play Spikeball, or a large group game such as "Ninja" - "Tiny Tanks" - or "Disco Mix-n-Mingle." Ultimate players in the Pacific Northwest, however, take these games to the next level, something I experienced recently at Oregon’s 2016 Cramp Up Tournament.

 

Cramp Up is a two day tournament right outside of Ashland, a small town in southwestern Oregon famous for their Shakespeare Festival. Our team was given the name "51st Dates" - so we arrived with a plethora of Hawaiian shirts, Reese's peanut butter cups, and Spam (along with several cases of PBR).  What struck me about the tournament, though, was not the players attire or the beverages on the sidelines (these are common at many casual ultimate tournaments), but the "Spirit Games" that the teams partook in.

 

After every game, it was a tradition to name 2-4 players of the opposing team as "MVPs" who would participate in their own unique game each team has created. Our game consisted of two people racing with a beverage between their thighs towards their partner, who proceeded to drink the shaken up beverage from their partner's thighs without using their hands. One of the teams we played, Fancy, created a croquet course using their teammates as obstacles for two of our players to race through. Another team called "Natural 20s" created a gladiator arena, where one of their players stood on top of a wheelbarrow speaker system they created and shot at players on our team with a Nerf gun.

 

What struck me more than the creativity of the Spirit Games, was the importance placed on them. The actual Ultimate games would often start late because one team was still participating in another team's Spirit Game. Even after some of our more heated games where we didn't end on the greatest terms, there was no question about whether or not we were going to force four players on the other team to chug a shaken-up beverage from between their teammates legs. Of course we were - and as soon as we started laughing at the ridiculousness of it, all feelings of malcontent dissipated instantly.

 

 

AND THIS ENCOMPASSES EVERYTHING I LOVE ABOUT ULTIMATE: IT IS AN INCREDIBLY COMPETITIVE, FUN, CREATIVE, AND QUIRKY ATMOSPHERE.

 

It differs greatly from other sports which are made up largely by adrenaline filled bros, loud authoritarian coaches, intentional fouls, and serious no-nonsense attitudes. That's why I love it when I see things like these incredibly creative "Spirit Games" at tournaments. It reminds me that Ultimate is truly something special, and why I fell in love with this sport to begin with.

 


 

Chris Schasse, traveling Software Trainer at JAMF Software & creator of The Break Side

Chris is obsessed with Ultimate communities around the globe. He travels constantly, sometimes for work, sometimes for fun, always on the lookout for the most vibrant Ultimate players in the area. A few summers back, Chris put this fetish to work, creating a web-series about some of the communities he encountered in his travels. The spirit of Ultimate he saw in those communities has restored his faith in humanity. 

 

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