August 4, 2015 by Charlie Eisenhood in Livewire with 17 comments
Brian Walsh, the foreign editor at Time Magazine, has a very hot take about the recent news that WFDF was granted full recognition by the International Olympic Committee.
Walsh, who played two and a half years of college ultimate at Princeton in the late ’90s (and quit “because they started doing wind sprints in practice“), came down from his editorial perch to deliver this gem: “Don’t Let The IOC Ruin Ultimate Frisbee.”
File this one in the increasingly grating genre of ‘growing ultimate will destroy my mythical visions of this perfect-the-way-it-is sport.’
Here’s the crux of the article:
…The IOC, which is prevented from being the most corrupt body in international sport only by the existence of FIFA, has the unique ability to suck the life out of sport. While I’m all for the best players in the Ultimate world getting a chance to represent their country at the Olympic Games—although, guys, watch out for the drug testing—the sheer bureaucracy of the IOC, and the increasing commercialism of the Games themselves, go against the spirit of Ultimate.
Let’s go ahead and grant that the IOC is corrupt and that the Olympics are a multi-billion dollar business. So?
Winning an Olympic medal is still the crowning achievement of many athletes’ careers. It remains a joyous celebration of international sport. The bureaucracy of the IOC has literally nothing to do with what it would mean for hundreds of ultimate athletes to represent their countries on the biggest stage in sports.
If you think ultimate is a great sport, then you should be thrilled that WFDF has put the wheels into motion to get ultimate into the Olympics some day. How many kids might decide to try out ultimate when they watch USA v. Japan under the lights on NBC?
Walsh’s column flirts with the specious idea that money and organization are antithetical to ultimate and its value system. This zombie idea has roots in the hippie/counterculture era of ultimate in the early years of the sport and ignores that money and organization are the things that actually make the sport better: more youth leagues, more playing opportunities, reduced costs for players, etc.
I welcome the day when NBC does a beautifully produced story about how Kurt Gibson beat stage 3 cancer, won gold in the club division, and made Team USA. When there’s a McDonald’s ad during the commercial break, I don’t think we’ll forget how to self-officiate.