"Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate unsportsmanlike conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional infractions, or other 'win-at-all-costs' behavior are contrary to the Spirit of the Game and must be avoided by all players."
- From the 11th Edition Rules
Spirited games result from mutual respect among opponents. Assume the best of your opponent. Give him or her the benefit of a doubt. You would want the same for yourself. But if you are thick-skinned, do not assume that your opponent is. Maybe you should think of this rule as, “treat others as you would have them treat your mother.”
SOTG is not just some abstract principle that everyone adopts and then games run smoothly without effort. Close calls are made in tight games. Hard fouls are committed. SOTG is about how you handle yourself under pressure: how you contain your emotionality, tame your temper, and modulate your voice. If you initiate or contribute to the unraveling of spirit, the concept falls apart quickly. If you act to mend things (or at least not exacerbate the situation) by following point 1, the game heals itself.
Ultimate has a long tradition of good-natured heckling. Heckles are friendly barbs, typically from non-playing spectators. Heckling can be fun, but taunting is unspirited and wrong. Harassing remarks after an opponent's foul call or close play are NOT heckling: they are abusive taunts which create unpleasant playing conditions and often escalate to acrimonious disputes.
It is a fallacy to argue that the stakes are so important that some aspect of SOTG can be cast aside. Time and again, great teams and star players have shown that you can bring all your competitive and athletic zeal to a game without sacrificing fair play or respect for your opponent.
There is no “eye for an eye.” If you are wronged, you have no right to wrong someone in return. In the extreme case where you were severely mistreated, you may bring the issue up with a captain, tournament director, or even lodge a complaint with the governing body. If you retaliate in kind, however, a complaint may be filed against you. We recall point 1: treat others as you would have them treat you, not as they have treated you. In the end, you are responsible for you.
After a hard foul, close call, or disputed play, take a step back, pause, and take a deep breath. In the heat of competition, emotions run high. By giving yourself just a bit of time and space, you will gain enough perspective to compose yourself and concentrate on the facts involved in the dispute (was she in or out; did you hit his hand or the disc; did that pick affect the play). Your restraint will induce a more restrained response from your opponent. Conflagration averted, you may resume business as usual.
When you turn the other cheek, you know you've done the right thing. You may not hear praise, there may be no standing ovation, but people do notice. Eventually, their respect for you and their appreciation of the game will grow.
Compliment an opponent on her good catch. Remark to a teammate that you admire his honesty in calling himself out-of-bounds. Look players in the eye and congratulate them when you shake their hands after a game. These small acts boost spirit greatly, a large payoff for little time and effort.
Not only does the realization that your actions will be remembered for a long time serve to curb poor behavior, it can also inspire better conduct. Many old-timers enjoy the experience of meeting an elite player who remembers their first rendezvous on the field and recalls the event in detail. A good first encounter with an impressionable young player can have considerable long-term positive impact.
All other things being equal, games are far more fun without the antipathy. Go hard. Play fair. Have fun.
From the 11th Edition Rules
Team captains are expected to encourage and facilitate both knowledge of the rules and spirit of the game among their team.
Lots of time conflicts can be resolved a lot faster and with better Spirit when the captains of the team step in with the right call. Ideally the two players involved will be able to resolve the issue on their own; if they are unsure of what to do, captains should be ready to help the discussion along.
The most important thing to remember is that if a resolution cannot be reached in a timely manner, send the disc back to the thrower and the disc comes back in at stalling 6. It is as important to know the rules as it is to know when you don’t know them.
All disputes should be resolved amicably even though you are playing against someone in a competitive sport. If a situation arises where you as the captain are unsure of what should happen, deal with it in the fairest way possible (back to thrower or replay) and make it your responsibility to learn the proper outcome for next time. Try to find the rule and/or contact us if you have any questions.
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