Ultimate frisbee. Ultimate. Frisbee. For those of us who play the sport, we know what it’s all about. But for someone who has never heard of it, what will they think when we ask if they play “ultimate” or if they’ve ever watched “ultimate”. There’s no reason they should think anything but “the ultimate what”? The issue with ultimate is that it was named on how it made the inventor feel while he was playing it.
If you’ve read my post about How It All Began, where I share an interview between Willie Herndon and Jared Kass (who invented ultimate and introduced it to Joel Silver), you’ll know that the name for the sport came from how it made Jared feel while he was playing.
My background is in marketing so I see several issues with naming a sport based on how it makes you feel. The biggest issue is that it doesn’t tell you anything about the sport itself. Just because a sport makes one person feel a certain way, someone else might feel differently – awesome, free, amazing, etc. So the name of our sport has been flawed since its inception and as such I feel limits our ability to gain wider spread recognition including bigger sponsorship dollars.
I propose that we change the name of our sport.
In order to have the general public (ie those people who have never seen a “real” ultimate game) understand the sport and give it more respect, we need to change the name.
When I first started playing ultimate, I would get offended when someone would ask me if ultimate was played with dogs. I used to get offended and reply with a rude comment which not only meant that they would probably never ask me about ultimate again but it also didn’t help inform them about the sport. Later on, once I started competing in other disc sports, I realized that it wasn’t that people were being ignorant or insulting – they simply didn’t know any better and that’s because we have a name that doesn’t tell a person new to the sport anything about what it actually is.
I’ve been privy to many discussions related to alternate for ultimate but there are only really 2 names that I feel would work. One because it’s just a really cool name and the other because it would work really well in the future if we were to ever make the olympics but it also serves to rectify the issue of the name not saying anything about the sport itself.
The first one has been used before sort of as a tongue in cheek mention up until Flatball Radio was born and the documentary Flatball Film was announced and so it’s become more accepted by the ultimate community. Flatball to me describes an object that is round and flat – which you could say describes how a frisbee looks in it’s most simplest of terms.
The other name, Team Disc, to me works really for multi disc sport competitions.
For example, check out the names of some other disc sports which are growing communities and have been tied into ultimate (most before the inception of ultimate):
- Disc golf
- Dog disc
- Double Disc Court (DDC)
Adding Team Disc to this list would simply make more sense than Ultimate Disc (which is what the AUDL calls it – American Ultimate Disc League).
Do you think we need to change the name of our sport? Do you agree that it’s a limiting factor both in marketability and having new people get it?
Of the 2 names, Flatball or Team Disc, which one do you prefer? Do you have another name you think would be a better alternative?