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Published On: Thu, Feb 11th, 2016

Joey Houssian, Nomads team leader, reflects on Ultimate Frisbee’s Olympic Status

In the summer of 2015, many Ultimate Frisbee players got the news they had been waiting for – Ultimate Frisbee has become a sanctioned Olympic sport. The August 2nd, 2015 announcement came after a two year vetting process that moved Ultimate Frisbee from provisional recognition status to a fully sanctioned sport, much to the pleasure of The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), which is the governing body of Ultimate Frisbee and boasts 62 member associations on five continents.

There are an estimated 7.5 million Ultimate Frisbee players around the world. Players note the inclusiveness, ease and activity as reasons why they love the sport. “I believe it can enhance human existence when done right,” Tom Crawford, a former director of coaching for the United States Olympic Committee, said. “I was like, This is wicked entertaining stuff! In one weekend I fell in love with the sport and saw its huge potential.”

Ultimate Frisbee, or “Ultimate” as the sport is referred to by players, dates back to the late 1960’s. Official rules were drafted in 1970 by Hollywood producer Joel Silver, who fell in love with the game while attending high school in New Jersey.

Ultimate players believe the sport is more inclusive and culturally relevant than some of the other sports at the Olympics. In fact, some even envision Ultimate as the future of sports. Notably, co-ed Ultimate Frisbee teams boast gender equality since the sport is played in a field with one Frisbee and participation costs are low, making it something for everyone to enjoy and partake in.

Adam Ginsburg Pictures from an Ultimate Tournament in Dallas 2005 photo/ Keflavich via wikimedia commons

Adam Ginsburg Pictures from an Ultimate Tournament in Dallas 2005 photo/ Keflavich via wikimedia commons

It’s fun to watch a frisbee sail through the air. You see it bouncing off the wind, you see a good thrower use that wind to curve it in at the right place,” Robert Rauch, President of WFDF, said to the New Yorker. “Our hope is that we’ll be in a position, in 2017, to make a credible pitch to put forward the mixed gender division of Ultimate as a viable candidate for the 2024 Olympics.”

In Canada, the city of Vancouver is sometimes considered the epicenter of the Ultimate Frisbee world in the country. The Vancouver Nighthawks are the only major league Ultimate team in Canada and play against teams from Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

Additionally, both Vancouver’s Mens and Womens open traveling teams have enjoyed international success for close to two decades.

Joey Houssian, a veteran of Ultimate Frisbee in British Columbia with time on both Furious George and the Victoria Nomads, confirms that “Vancouver has long had a reputation for producing some of the top Ultimate players in the country and undoubtedly the world.” Although now retired from competitive play, Houssian has won half a dozen national titles and two world championships over his 25 year playing career.

Joey Houssian, owner of several outdoor adventure tourism businesses in the Whistler area, including The Adventure Group and Superfly Ziplines, is very excited about the new direction the sport is moving in. Houssian beams, “It is with pride and excitement that I have learned Ultimate will now be a sanctioned Olympic sport confirming what many of us knew would only be a matter of time.”

Joey Houssian adds: “The sport has all of the qualities that would and should be celebrated by the international sports community and for those who have been exposed to the sport, whether at a grass roots level, at University or at the highest competitive level, there is a tremendous sense of family and community that comes with playing Ultimate. And it is this “family” that makes it such a perfect fit for the Olympics, one of the truly great celebrations of global diversity and sport.”

“It’s the fastest growing team sport in the world. Ultimate Frisbee, especially the World Flying Disc Federation, has made tremendous inroads into communities in Africa and India. It’s really becoming the sport of the people and there seems to be no end in sight,” Vancouver Nighthawks spokesman, Chris Canon, said to CBC.

The ancient Greeks would be impressed indeed.

Guest Author: Nick Petros

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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  1. Ryan Kyle (kyler445me) | Pearltrees says:

    […] Adventures – OPUS Hotel Vancouver | Vancouver Boutique Hotel. Joey Houssian, Nomads team leader, reflects on Ultimate Frisbee’s Olympic Status | The Global Disp…. In the summer of 2015, many Ultimate Frisbee players got the news they had been waiting for – […]

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