Content Area Literacy—Sample Multi-Genre Essay
This paper is about my experiences with Ultimate Frisbee, which is a sort of Frisbee-Football game. I started playing this game when I was in high school and I have been playing ever since. I like to teach people how to play Ultimate whenever I can and I like to start up new frisbee groups as well. The rules and directions on how to play the game are kind of tedious and confusing to explain in writing. The best way to learn how to play Ultimate is to actually play it, and I highly recommend doing so. If you are interested, there is a group that meets in Lubbock every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday at 6:30pm; we would love to have you! For more information, check out www2.tltc.ttu.edu/qualin/ultimate.
This paper specifically focuses on the differences I have experienced with playing Ultimate in Georgia and playing Ultimate in Texas. I don’t know if I can make such a broad generalization that these two groups are representative of the states in which they are based, the differences may also be due to the fact that the Georgia group was an urban league while the Lubbock group is a college league. At any rate, I’ve observed some pretty stark differences that are worth mentioning. I’ve learned through these experiences that there is a systemic negativity to some teams and some sports that turn many people off from sports altogether, but I’ve also learned that not all teams function off of negativity and there is a way to make the sport a pleasurable experience for everyone.
The Ultimate Sports Experience
Ultimate Frisbee combines the best aspects of Football, Soccer, Basketball, and Frisbee. It is a non-contact sport where the players participate in self-refereeing, even at the highest level, there are no official referees. The game requires a lot of running, agility, and graceful jumps, but the rules are simple enough that anyone can play. Because the sport is non-contact, it allows players of all age, gender, and athletic ability to participate. Sometimes the game is referred to as just Ultimate, since frisbee is a brand name.
The first Ultimate game was played at ColumbiaHigh School in Maplewood, New Jersey in 1968. Joel Silver started the first team at this school and claimed the game to be "the ultimate sports experience". It has been described that "the students who played at Columbia High School were not the athletes of the school, but an eclectic group of students that represented leaders in academics, student politics, the student newspaper, and school dramatic productions" (Wikipedia). This group of players developed the Spirit of the Game and proclaimed that gentlemanly behavior and gracefulness should be most important.
Rutgers and Princeton participated in the first intercollegiate competition in 1972. Now Ultimate is played in 42 countries including Sweden, Norway, and Japan who receive government funding for the sport. There are about 100,000 people that play the sport worldwide and it was a medal sport in the 2001 World Games in Japan (whatisultimate). The popularity of the sport is a great achievement, but "in recent years college ultimate has attracted a greater number of traditional athletes, raising the level of competition and athleticism, and providing a challenge to its laid back, free-spirited roots (Wikipedia). The Spirit of the Game is usually very important to most Ultimate players. The game loses all its wonder and appeal if the players lose this spirit.
Part I: PeachtreeCity
The Spirit of the Game
(Quoted directly from the Ultimate Players Association)
Ultimate has traditionally relied upon a spirit of sportsmanship which places the responsibility for fair play on the player himself. Highly competitive play is encouraged but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed-upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate adverse conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting of opposing players, dangerous aggression, intentional fouling, or other ‘win at all costs’ behavior are contrary to the Spirit of the Game and must be avoided by all players.
Close Your Eyes and Visualize a Place Where You Would Rather Be Than Anywhere in the World
Warm yellow sun springs off my rosy cheeks and shoulders
Puffy cotton clouds float through the bright blue refreshing sky
Cool green grass smooshes between my toes and gives me dirty Hobbit feet
Dark perfect shade from the towering pine trees that make the air smell so sweet
Sweat drips into my eyes and mouth. Tastes salty sweet
My hair and clothes are soaked until they are sopping wet
My legs feel like lead and my body screams to me
"Sit down! Rest! Drink some water!"
But I skip, jump, run, smile, giggle
Filled with excited energy that refuses to relent
It flies through the air
I can’t wait to get my hands on it
I can’t wait to throw, catch, run, jump, laugh
I close my eyes and every time
I’m immediately transported
I’m playing frisbee
It all started one hot and muggy summer. My ex-boyfriend, but close friend, invited me to come play frisbee. I had played many times before, starting in high school, but this is when I really got involved. We played every Saturday night and I eventually found myself counting the days down until Saturday. It was a great summer, but when the weather turned cooler everyone scattered to the winds. Friends started new jobs, went back to grad school and even moved to different countries. But I was hooked. I couldn’t stop playing frisbee, so I started inviting people to play with me. I invited my family first, then friends: old and new. Some people I’ve known since the third grade and some people I met five minutes ago. And we all enjoy each other’s company. We are so appreciative of every person who wants to play and we include everyone: young, old, male, female, fast, slow, Christian, atheist, black, white, Hispanic, Asian. We all forget any differences or boundaries and just play together. Instantly, we all relate to one another and we’re all friends.
But the most marvelous occurrence is my family coming together. Mom, brother, sister, aunt, cousins, Dad, Step Mom; they all play frisbee and look forward to playing together every weekend. My grandmother even comes out to watch the games. After being so separated, all of us being very independent people with busy lives, we finally come together, and we have fun! We love being around each other and we forget any past pain or wrong doing.
And for the first time, I have found a sport that I love to play. I don’t feel anxious or nervous. I feel completely accepted and at ease. I’m not the best player, but I don’t care! I know everyone wants me to be there and they all want to play with me. I’ve never been more able to be myself on an athletic field. We have competitive games and we try hard to have evenly matched teams, but our competitiveness is full of respect. We have some of the best athletes I’ve ever seen, then we also have my somewhat coordination-challenged 13 year old cousin, but their differences don’t matter. We all play together because having fun is more important than winning. I’ve never seen a sport like this before now. We met every week for two years. What an amazing group of people! Or is it just an amazing game?
Interviews with the Peachtree City Group: What Does Ultimate Frisbee Mean to You?
James- It’s a challenging activity that I’m good at. I look forward to playing every weekend because it is a sort of release. I’ve made good friends here and I like that I continue to meet new people.
Bo- Frisbee forces me out of my comfort zone to meet new friends. I really like how you can meet people here that you would otherwise never talk to. This is a great place to play with people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. It’s also a fun way to get in shape and lose weight. I’m always running during Ultimate, but I don’t think about running. But mostly, I like it because of the people.
Gary-I like this game because everyone can bring their own individual strengths. Some people throw really well, while others can run fast and continuously, while others show good leadership and hold the group together. It is a sport that is independent of gender and age and it’s a great way to be physically active.
Joe- It’s a good way to stay young in your 50’s.
Pete- Aside from my family and my faith, frisbee is one of my greatest joys. I like it because most people are new to the game. No one learned frisbee in there adolescence like many people do with soccer, baseball, and football, so there is less of an intimidation factor and more people are willing to play. Almost all frisbee players I have met have been cool, interesting, and tolerant people which makes me think that the game almost has a sort of spirituality. It definitely has a higher percentage of "good sportsmanship" than most other sports.
Mary- The quote on my frisbee says it all: "Life is Good". This game focuses on the good in life. It’s a game that’s based on respect, tolerance, and inclusion. I think that’s why it attracts the coolest people.
Part II: Lubbock
Definitions from the Webster’s Universal College Dictionary
compete- to strive to outdo another for acknowledgement, prize, etc.; engage in a contest
sport- an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature
game- a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance and played according to a set of rules for the amusement of the players or spectators.
fun- providing pleasure or amusement; enjoyable
Another "Fun" Game
Ok guys, this is what we’re going to do this time: We’re gonna start with a horizontal stack. Keegan break first and hard to the right. Jimmy shadow close behind. I’ll break for the end zone. Dan be my backup…
Oh yah, Matt, Ashleigh, and Victor. Uh, just hang out near the sides somewhere…
Psst. Hey guys, try to only throw it to me or Dan; we’re the best players. Definitely don’t throw it to Matt, this is only his second time playing and he can’t catch it.
Man! Matt why didn’t you catch that! You threw it out of bounds. Man I knew I should’ve thrown it to Dan instead of you.
Ok this time we’re going to play zone. After the pull, have a strong fence, force home and no breaks. You hear that, no breaks! What are they talking about.
Ashleigh, are you sure you can keep up with Charles? He is the slowest person on the other team, but can you really stay with him? I guess just try your best. I’ll try to guard him when you can’t keep up with him.
Interviews with Lubbock Group: What Does Ultimate Frisbee Mean to You?
Dan- A group of about 11-20 people that come out to throw the disk around. It’s a good way to learn geometry and the force of the wind and to have an all around good time.
Tony- It’s a way to compete which is good for you. It’s also a fun way to get exercise and hang out with friends.
Matt- It’s a way to get off of my computer for two to three hours a day
Charles- Being very thirsty and tired after running around with people half my age
Keegan- Every day I wake up with my socks already on and my shorts ready for the day. It’s Ultimate Frisbee time. Everything I do: I eat, sleep, drink, breath Ultimate Frisbee
Adam- It’s become an obsession. It takes up all my time and I find myself tuning out while people are talking. I start thinking about horizontal stacks and layout bids. It’s unhealthy. It’s like heroin.
Wishing, wanting, home
Trying but nervous
Nervous hands shaking
Everyone looking, judging
Why can’t you catch that!?!
Learn how to throw!
Memories, softball, 10 years old
Watch the ball!
Ashleigh, run faster!
Trying so hard but can’t get better
Why? Why can’t I get better?
"I wish you weren’t on my team"
Crying in the dug out
Ashleigh, dive for that Frisbee!
Wishing, wanting, home
Crying, crying, crying
To Whomever It May Concern:
I used to think that I hated sports and that I would always hate sports. You see, I’m not very athletic. I’m a slow runner, I have bad hand-eye coordination, and I usually do not excel in athletic feats. This incapability may be due to lack of practice or experience, but some part of me may have been born that way. Since I am such an incapable athlete, I used to think that I should never play sports and I should try to avoid them at all costs. I thought that I hated sports because I wasn’t good at them, but recently I have realized that I don’t hate sports at all. There are actually several things that I love about sports. I love being outside and working with other people for a common goal. I love practicing things until I get better. I love the feeling of achievement when I catch the winning point, and I love patting my opponent on the back and saying, "good game" when I’ve lost. So "sports" are not at fault, I don’t hate them at all.
What I hate is your attitude. You think winning is a matter of life and death, and in your selfish attempts to be the best you make your entire team miserable. You thrive on negativity and exclusion and you miss the point of "fun" altogether.
I want you to know that I don’t blame you. Society can be very competitive in general and you were just trying to survive and thrive in that environment. I just want you to know that there is a better way. Winning is not a life or death issue and you can include everyone. Don’t be afraid to respect one another and learn from one another.
And one more thing. Whenever you are ready, I would love to play a game with you. You seem to have a lot of energy and dedication. That will be a lot of fun.
A willing player
Webster’s Universal College Dictionary. Random House. 1997.
www1.upa.org "Spirit of the Game"