Pandemic Times and Non-Contact Society

What can we learn from Ultimate Frisbee?

Ultimate is a non-contact, self-refereed team sport played with a flying disc (or Frisbee™). I played for the Delhi team for a few years mostly because the logo was fun to have on your jersey and we had more fun time than play time.

Legend has it that the name came from one of the players that noticed stray dogs in Delhi wearing sweaters in winter, and thought that would be a cool name for the team. Nobody really knew who put them up but there were clearly kind people out there that did it every winter. You can still see this in Delhi winters.

The interesting takeaway from playing the sport is SOTG – Spirit of the Game. Apart from being a non-contact sport, it was also self-regulated one.

SOTG laid out basic principles of game play. Rather than rephrasing, I am pasting the rules from the world flying disc federation.

“Ultimate relies upon a Spirit of the Game that places the responsibility for fair play on every player. There are no referees; the players are solely responsible for following and enforcing the rules, even at World Championship. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.

Spirit of the Game is the mindful behaviour practiced by players worldwide prior to, during and after a game. It encompasses attitudes and skills such as good knowledge and application of the rules, fair-mindedness, safe play, and spatial awareness, clear and calm communication, and positive and respectful attitude towards teammates, fans, and opponents, in a mutual effort to protect the basic joy of play.”

You get the message.

Play safe. Play fair. Be mindful that we are all in this together and most importantly, we have an opportunity to come out better at the end of it all.

As we self-regulate and build new social schedules, I will quietly admire how circles and squares are helping with play fair in the society.

Of course, and as with every other Indian, am secretly hoping physical distance between people gets hard coded for us at the end of it all.

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