Brodie Smith and the Future of Ultimate

If you have not heard yet Brodie Smith has gone viral again. This time Brodie throws the disc from a bridge to a person who jumps off a speeding boat. At the time of this writing the video already has more than 2.5 million views.

The amount of people that have seen Brodie is quite impressive. Right now he is mostly known outside of ultimate circles as “the frisbee trick shot dude,” but because of his agenda and his roots, ultimate is getting some much needed exposure. The only other time ultimate got this much media attention was back when Dan “Stork” Roddick was playing in the Rose Bowl back in the 1970’s and the Corona fueled 90’s.

It is sad to me that it took this much time for ultimate to build back up a viewership level that, while small, existed before many of us who now play ultimate were even born.

What happened in the last 25 years? A large part of it could be due to the fact that previous attempts to bring the best game in the world to larger audiences left a bad taste in the founding fathers’ mouths. However, instead of growing the sport, a sport which would inevitably take off, in a way that was acceptable to them, they hid it away and kept ultimate to themselves and those lucky enough to find out about it via college, friends, or pure chance.

Now here we sit at the crossroads again. Ultimate is beginning to creep into the spotlight again. Those who wish it to stay a community-based, non-mass-produced sport are trying with all their might to keep it from being commercialized. Unfortunately, they did not ever make the connection that the two are not mutually exclusive. You can have a professional sport that is loved by millions, but still has the close-knit community/spirit of the game core. You can have referees, but the onus to play fair and to have fun is still on the player. But they missed that chance, and now a new group, with Brodie as the most visible star, are marching forward with what they want ultimate to become.

Ultimate may eventually become a big sport, a sport that people play from their childhood to old age. It has that draw. But to get there it needs people to nurture it and to grow it, and not just the same people with the same ideals. It needs people connected to its past and to its future, just like a tree has roots and leaves. Otherwise it will just be a stump rotting on the forest floor.