Written by: Zahlen Titcomb, idea maker at Bamboxers.com, co-founder of Five Ultimate, Strategist at the All Star Ultimate Tour, and co-owner of the Seattle Cascades
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.
A few days ago, a friend reach out to me for a tiny favor.
At first, I was overjoyed to be able to help steer someone toward my sport. I believe Ultimate Frisbee is intrinsically good for the world, and I am passionate about helping others join the movement if they so choose. The social tools we learn from self officiation, the teamwork mentality, and the individual integrity are all character traits I see less and less of these days. The thought of bringing another young player into the fold of ultimate was exciting. The thought of giving a young girl the chance to start a sport that is generally gender progressive was also exciting. So yes, “I would be happy to send you some suggestions for a highlight video!”
A quick search brought up some great plays, but they were all men’s highlight reels. I knew this was going to be the case, as this is not my first foray into gender balance in ultimate media. If I was going to be helpful in inspiring a 10 year old girl to join a sport, I couldn’t just show her clips of macho dudes beefing out and getting huge diving catches. What is that going to inspire?
Of course we are in the thick of the All-Star Ultimate Tour right now, so in the ultimate frisbee and general sports media world these two weeks, all eyes are on the 17 female all-stars that are traveling around the country playing showcase games against top women’s club teams in big stadiums. The multiple camera angle instant replay live streams and the recaps are excellent. And there are men, women, girls, and boys all over the country flocking to the games as they come through town.
As I composed my reply, I knew that the All-Star Ultimate Tour’s media was a clear answer to her ask. My hat is off to my sister Qxhna, and all of the passionate people involved in making the tour a reality. It amazes me what is possible when passion and purpose are given the fuel to soar. I am so happy they have done what they have for our sport and for women in sports in general.
But at the same time what really frustrated me was that I do not know what I would have been able to send my friend if it had not been for the media produced and distributed by the tour. It pains me to think about how longstanding and how extensive the media gap has been, not only in our sport, but also in sports in general. Of course there are counterexamples, and of course this is not the only disparity in sports and society, but as a general sub-trend, I would like to see the gender inequality in sports media change.
So Thank you to the All-Star Ultimate Tour, thank you to all the other movements addressing this issue, and thank you to everyone that is making active decisions to be part of this change, both in front of and behind the camera.
Zahlen is a sibling by birth, an idea maker by nature, and a social entrepreneur by religion. The oldest of five, Z grew up playing disc sports around the world with his siblings. He captained the ultimate team at UChicago back when it was cool to listen to Dave Matthews Band. He was a local boss (without the tattoos) of developing ultimate in China for many years. Zahlen believes ultimate can make the world a better place, and works daily beside his brothers and sisters on Five Ultimate, The All Star Ultimate Tour, the Seattle Cascades, and TUPO to boost the sport he loves.
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