Playing for Peace

In the confines of 4,800 square yards of space, 14 players and one plastic disc create the potential for something great. Standing on the line are seven strangers turned teammates. At this moment all that matters is working together to get the disc to the other end of the field. Regardless of who you are, where you come from or what you believe, the objective is the same: don’t drop the disc.

As if worrying about catching a piece of plastic whizzing through the air wasn’t enough, players have stall counts, fouls and defense to keep up with, too. With games typically played to 13 points, ultimate is a very fast paced game with continuous running and sprinting. Once a pass is complete to a teammate, they have ten seconds to throw the disc while keeping their pivot foot planted. With a defender in front of you making it difficult to throw, it is up to your teammates to get open down field in hopes of catching a disc in the endzone for a score.   

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Without a cohesive flow, a turnover is soon to follow. If you fail, you fail together. One unit. One team. No finger pointing or sole person to blame. All over the world people are utilizing sports, in this case the sport known as ultimate frisbee, as a way to teach basic concepts like teamwork and inclusivity, in hopes of bettering the greater good.

As a self-officiated sport, there is a moral undertone to playing ultimate. Spirit of the Game is what makes ultimate so unique and ensures a fun atmosphere. By relying on the players to communicate and work calls out themselves it allows for highly competitive play, “but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play” (Spirit of the Game, Section 1. Introduction item B).  

The basic joy of playing frisbee is what brings players to the field in the first place, providing a commonality amongst participants regardless of their differing backgrounds. There is a refreshing confidence in knowing that you will be accepted no matter who you are.

Introducing ultimate frisbee in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a great example of the power that sport can have to overcome differences and attempt to bring peace to a region.

Ultimate Peace is a nonprofit organization that uses ultimate to create beneficial friendships. They use ultimate as a tool to better the world by facilitating the coexistence of Palestinians and Israelis. Through play, Israeli and Palestinian children can set aside conflict and work together as a team, playing sports in an environment built on the concept of non-violent conflict resolution. By changing their sometimes misunderstood negative attitudes towards each other at a young age, the hope is that a cooperative mindset will carry into adulthood allowing for future peaceful conflict resolution.  

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“Ultimate is the ideal team sport for uniting divided societies and cultures” (Ultimate Peace). Using the values that ultimate is built upon, Ultimate Peace strives to emphasize “mutual respect, friendship, non-violence, personal integrity, and fun.” Forget race, gender, age, Palestinian or Israeli. Ultimate encourages and teaches people to solve conflict on and off the field, so let’s play.