Tales From Earth:Games-Sports-Ultimate Frisbee

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This is part of the compilation created for the book Tales From The Third Planet, created by the Cubehunters on Earth, and printed by Lulu. Anyone can buy it here, with proceeds to go to unfiction! :)


Across the sunny field James saw the opposing team reform themselves on their line. His team reshuffled themselves in response and he held high the plastic disc. The opposing captain raised his hand, and James put his shoulders, forearm and wrist into flinging the disc as hard as he could at them. In the same beat, he started sprinting after it.

Earth has a lot of sports, games which test the physical fitness and skill of the players as well as their teamwork and mental abilities. These sporting events are much more popular than the purely mental events, such as Chess or Go. One such sport is described here, in the hope that Perplexians will appreciate why we like to watch and play sports on Earth.

Ultimate Frisbee (or just 'Ultimate', if you want to avoid nasty trademark issues), was born out of New Jersey, around 1968. It involves two teams of seven players, a pitch which is about 110x37 metres, and a small, usually 175 gram, plastic flying disc. Each team scores points by completing a pass into the opponents' endzone. Players may only move one of their feet whilst they hold the disc, thus only allowing them to pivot on one foot.

Play begins by the defending team 'Huck'ing the disc to the opposing team. The farther they throw it, the farther the opposing team has to get it back to the endzone. Players usually mark each other one-on-one. By far the most common offensive strategy is to set up a 'stack' of players extending down the pitch, between the player with the disc and the opposing endzone, facing the disc. Players can then sprint sideways, forwards or backwards to try and lose their mark and successfully receive a throw, turn and pass the disc back to someone further back in the stack. When executed properly, this manouevre looks elegant and gets the disc a long way towards its goal with minimal interference from the other team.

The most common defensive play is to try to push the attacking team against the sidelines, by means of a 'force'. When a player has the disc, his mark will be very near him -- a little more than a disc-width away, trying to prevent him releasing a good throw. However, unless the defending player is three times larger than the handler (an uncommon trait on Earth), he cannot block the player on all sides. He will usually allow the player to throw backwards freely. With no force, the defender will stand straight in front of the handler. If there is a force to one side of the pitch or the other, then the defender stands on the other side, trying to force the handler to throw the disc forwards, but towards the chosen sideline. Because throwing from the sideline is much harder, the offense will hopefully eventually make a mistake.

When the disc touches the ground, or is caught by a player with both feet out of bounds, then it is a turnover, and the two sides switch offense/defence roles.

Ultimate is unique amongst Earth sports because it is unrefereed. There is a high degree of sportsmanship, and it is common for players to admit their own fouls, greet and chat to their mark whilst playing and sit and have a friendly chat after the game is finished. The players are more interested in having fun than winning (although winning is still important). When a game is over, the two teams will often sit in a circle and discuss the game, complimenting players on heroic or skillful plays, and suggesting ways they might improve; they will often play silly mini-games at this point too.