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Posted by christian on Thursday, March 4, 2010 · 8 comments

Why is Ultimate Frisbee not part of the Olympics? I'm sure you asked this question at least once, and even more sure that you have been already asked this several times. With the conclusion of the 2010's (winter) Olympics I'm also sure that this topic got once again some attention.

By the way, this ultimate Ultimate question is on the top of WFDF's FAQ section, so is a quick explanation why not: Frisbee is not big enough.

In its detailed explanation to this ultimate question, the WFDF sums up some IOC guidelines for sports entering the Olympics (a list of sport evaluation criteria and a report on existing Olympic sports and potential new sports) prepared for inclusion in the 2012 games.

Some of the minimum milestones that should be achieved before being even considered include:

  • 110 member nations
  • 50% of member nations organising National Championships
  • 50% of member nations participating in qualifying events for World Games/continental championships
  • World Championships broadcast in 10 countries (and TV rights paid for in at least 1 country)
  • Spectator sales at World Championships in the 10,000s
  • 100 media accreditation requests at World Championships
  • 100 press articles at World Championships
  • 5 major sponsors

Okay, so where are we right now?

  • WFDF has currently only 46 members. Including provisional members and mere contacts, this sums up to 82 countries. Criteria not met.
  • There is a more or less active tournament scene in 61 countries following the tournament listing on FFindr. Criteria could be met.
  • 21 countries participated in the World Ultimate Championships 2008, the official qualifier event for World Games 2009. Criteria could be met with some continental restructuring.
  • Worlds have only be broadcasted on the web by UltiVillage but not on TV, not to mention the lack of sellable TV rights. Criteria far from being met.
  • There have been around 4,000 spectators during 2008's Worlds Championships final in Vancouver between Sockeye and Furious George, not sure about the number of sold tickets though. Criteria far from being met.
  • I have no information regarding media accreditation requests. Anyway, I'd say that this criteria is also far from being met.
  • The press article count at Worlds is also unknown to me. Frisbee has an active blogger scene that creates interest and distributes information. Meeting this criteria is not as far as it seems in my opinion.
  • 5 major sponsors are requested, I don't know of any long-term sponsorship. Anyway, this criteria is heavily linked to those other "audience" criteria. Meeting one will automatically lead to meeting others.

And this is not all, as WFDF outlines in their FAQ: "Getting into the Olympics also involves a lot of politics and money. We are relatively poor as an international sport, and we are new at the sports politics game. Both those things will improve over time."

So much for how to get into Olympics, but does Ultimate Frisbee wants to go Olympic? This difficult question luckily does not need to get answered right now, since Ultimate Frisbee is not yet big enough. As WFDF puts it: "...we would need to ask ourselves whether being part of the olympics is the right thing for our sport. It would inevitably involve compromises.".

For now WFDF and Ultimate Frisbee is part of the World Games. It is the multi-sport event for non-Olympic sports, and a major stepping stone to the Olympics. That does not commit the sport to a path to the Olympics, but allows to trial being part of an international multi-sport event. Let's continue to grow and look where we will be in 10 years time.

8 comments

  1. unfortunately we are still far but we have to work hard for it
  2. Keep playing, flying, spreading and dreaming!
  3. The criteria are all well and good, but it is not very obvious that many sports in the Olympics come close to meeting them anymore than Ultimate does. Does rhythm gymnastics have 10,000 paid spectators at their World championship? With five major sponsors? Or any of the below? - 110 member nations - 50% of member nations organizing National Championships - 50% of member nations participating in qualifying events for World Games/continental championships - World Championships broadcast in 10 countries (and TV rights paid for in at least 1 country) - Spectator sales at World Championships in the 10,000s - 100 media accreditation requests at World Championships - 100 press articles at World Championships - 5 major sponsors I kind of doubt it. I think its all money and politics. Money and politics enough to be able to go in and fudge the statistics so the sport looks like it meets the criteria. As far as numbers of people actually engaging in the sport, doesn’t that count for something? How may people play Ultimate or Disc Golf compared to how many people are doing Luge? Or modern pentathlon for that matter. It becomes a joke when you compare those kinds of numbers.
  4. I would be very interested to see the comparative numbers for curling. I honestly believe that the primary reason for its rapid success is the ability to play it while drinking. Hard to believe it meets these criteria. From all that I've heard, Ulti was a HUGE success at last year's games in China. Tis a true pity that WFDF has fallen from grace with the UPA, PDGA and (??) even the FPA. I'm guessing we'll have to work out our internal disc-ord before the gaming commissions will take a serious look at us.
  5. They may ignore frisbee as an Olympic hopeful, but maybee, based on these criteria, they'll one day include a Spelling Bee. (Until a contender is banned for illegal use of Ginkgo)
  6. @Jim: I totally agree, there is a lot of politics in the business. But also a lot of tradition I guess. Once a discipline is established, gymnastics for instance, it seems that sub-disciplines get in much easier. Look at swimming, there have literally dozens of sub-disciplines. Also to note: getting into Winter Olympics is definitely much easier... @Gregg: Although Curling might look like an easy target (actually it's my first argument when talking about less-known Olympic sports), they do have a kind of history with World Championships since the 1960s. Following the stated requirements it seems impossible though that such a sport could make Summer Olympics.
  7. We want the IOC to be knocking on our door, not the other way around. Look at the 'new' sports that have been added in recent years. They weren't included because they suddenly got over some criteria threshold. They got in because they were recognised as well known, popular and exciting. Let's be that.
  8. I dont see it as a Olimpic game ! ULTIMATE stay as You are now !!!!!!!

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