FEATURE SERIES: THE 8 PILLARS OF COMMUNITY, #2: Distinctive Identity
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.
2. Distinctive Identity
By definition, there are things about ultimate that make it unique. These are teamwork, gender, self officiation, accessibility, to name a few. But there is something more, an identity born from the values that govern the game.
When you know someone plays ultimate, you know they participate in a sport that is defined by inclusiveness and trustworthiness. You have to trust the other players on the field if you are going to adhere to a system that allows them (and you) to officiate the game you are playing in. Their actions have an effect on the outcome of the match, and that requires trust.
From this trust emerges an understanding of respect, and the practiced skill of cooperation. When two ultimate athletes approach each other in a gym, rather than passive aggressive competitive tension, they enjoy genuinely friendly acknowledgement, at the absolute bare minimum.
For those of us that play ultimate, this is an easy thing to recognize. We have all had that experience off the field, seen someone across the room wearing Five shorts or a CDP Odyssey jacket, and known the feeling of being part of the same thing they are part of. This mere recognition or visual identification of a like-minded individual is a comforting thing. It’s like hearing your language spoken while traveling in a foreign country, or finding a fellow fan while watching a game at a bar in your rival’s city, but it’s more than just the likeness. There is a moral code born and shaped of playing an inclusive, self officiated sport, and it happens to generally fall in the good section of most people’s morality spectrum.
The ultimate frisbee distinctive identity does not arise from any sort of negative aggressor that it must protect itself from, or a perilous evil it collectively fights. There is not an evil opposite force that brings ultimate players together, but rather a positive drive to participate in a sport that has the potential to positively influence the groups that play. We chose to participate. We do it because we think it is good for the world.
That is part of who we are.
What about the other pillars? Check 'em here.
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.