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AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

USU's 'Lost Boys' trounce in-state rivals in ultimate Frisbee

By Mack Perry

October 20, 2006 | The sun was perched high above the sprawling campus of Utah State University. A drove of tense, uniformed athletes from all over the Intermountain West converged on the HPER field to engage in a gut-wrenching battle of wits, determination, and physical prowess. The teams collectively revealed the iconic object of their competitive desire: a 10 inch plastic throwing disc. An object commonly referred to as a Frisbee. The first day of the annual Big Sky Warm-up had begun.

Hosted this year by Utah State University's own ultimate Frisbee club, The Lost Boys, the Big Sky Warm-up is a tournament that gathers ultimate Frisbee organizations from the states of Utah, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming for a day of competition on Saturday that would determine the bracket configuration for a slew of championship games on Sunday. The Lost Boys won two victories during the tournament against Weber State and the University of Utah, in addition to further cementing the obscure sport as an engaging cornerstone to the dynamic athletic composition of Utah State.

"It's a lot more organized than people think," said Lost Boys team member and tournament director Trevor Graff.

Becoming an established college past time in the early 1970s, the exact origins of ultimate (as the game is now referred to because of the fact that "Frisbee" is merely the name of the most popular brand of throwing disc that can be used for the game) are somewhat shrouded in mystery. According to the online History of Ultimate Frisbee, the pseudo-sport may have begun as the past time of a group of Columbia High School students from Maplewood, N.J. The group likely learned the sport from a summer camp instructor at Mount Hernon, Mass. Well-known "Matrix" trilogy producer Joel Silver was among these students, and he helped formalize the first "Frisbee football" organization as a member of the school's student council and the school newspaper staff in 1968. The name "ultimate" actually originates from a statement Silver made about the nature of the sport.

Silver claimed that "Frisbee football" was "the ultimate sports experience" and went on to form the first collegiate club for ultimate at Lafayette College in 1970. Intercollegiate competition soon followed in 1972 between Princeton and Rutgers and by 1975 the first Intercollegiate Ultimate Championships commenced at Yale.

The popularity of ultimate grew gradually during the last half of the decade as ultimate clubs arose in California, the sport spread to more college and high school campuses, and Penn State held their first five-region National Ultimate Championship. Finally, in 1980, the Ultimate Players Association, the first professional ultimate organization, was formed. Now ultimate is played in 42 countries and Ultimate Players Association tournaments are held every year, solidifying the transformation of a couple of New Jersey boys' carefree recreation into a legitimate realm of competition.

As the game's developmental moniker implies, ultimate features rules that are similar to the sport of football. Although there are technically two official rule sets for the game, the online Ultimate Handbook explains that the sport is essentially a "game of keep-away with a disc." Players are required to receive a teammate's pass of the disc at the end zone of the 70-yard field. Unlike football, ultimate is a non-contact sport and is without all of the interruptions that contact sports entail but there are many defensive and offensive strategies that teams can employ.

"There is actually a lot of strategy," said Chris Pitts, the Lost Boys offensive captain.

According to Lost Boys member Matthew Johnson, most defensive tactics involve blocking one side of the opposing player with the disc so they will have limited access to the field. Like other sports games, defense in ultimate is primarily derived from the one-on-one player system that requires defending players to guard a corresponding player from the opposing team. Johnson also stated that defenders can alternatively choose to cover a larger area as opposed to a single player in a variety of formations. According to Johnson offensive strategies often call for a horizontal or vertical "stack" to keep lanes of the playing field free of defenders. A "stack" is physical barrier created by a group of players that can eventually "cut" or sprint to an open catching position.

"Ultimate Frisbee is a pretty laid-back sport but is still one of the most physically strenuous sports I have ever played," said Johnson.

Despite the game's glaring similarities with football, ultimate has become well-known for taking a more relaxed and free-spirited approach to organized competition. This notion is rather appropriate considering the game's fringe appeal.

The Ultimate Players Association has even described a "Spirit of the Game" statement to emphasize the importance of sportsmanship over the concept of victory. This philosophy has resulted in the creation of "spirit awards" and cheering for the opposing team following the end of every game. A unique sport that highlights the very basis for friendly competition, ultimate has evolved from a backyard distraction for a group of high school friends to an elaborately organized showcase of preparation, sportsmanship and spirit.


Copyright 1997-2006 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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