Frisbee culture still vibrates with quirky, quirky energy, even as the American Ultimate Disc League – founded in 2012 – professionalizes the sport and strengthens its competitive edge. It is a sport of constant action, like basketball or hockey. Like football, it is played on a pitch with end zones – like a multipurpose field at Catholic University, home of the DC Breeze. He demands serious athleticism and endurance from his teams of seven to score points. Sprinters often throw themselves into the air, diving after hard-to-reach throws. It’s not uncommon for clips to go viral on social media.
AUDL, which has 22 franchises in the US and Canada (and eschews the word Frisbee due to branding issues), has changed the sports fan rulebook. The rules were originally codified by teenagers in the 1960s from an informal game played in summer camps. The changes made the game faster and more exciting, and introduced referees to the pitch, but the basic goal remains the same: the offensive team tries to move the disc up the pitch to score in the area. opposing in-goal, while the defending team tries to block shots or force falls for a turnover. After catching the disc, a player must stop running and have seven seconds to throw to a teammate and keep the disc moving, otherwise a “stall” is called, resulting in a rollover.
Today’s star players are still among the first generations to play the sport, and it’s common for league veterans to start learning to throw a discus only in college. But a growing number of young players who started playing in organized teams as children are moving up the rosters and increasing the level of play. Now some of the younger ones have played their first professional game for the Breeze at the leaving high school. The Breeze, founded in 2013, kicked off the preseason in April, more than a year after the pandemic forced the AUDL to delay and ultimately cancel the 2020 season. The opening weekend in June has brought back the fans; The Breeze’s goal is to have a winning summer that will lead it to the championship in September.
Breeze player Duncan Fitzgerald throws a disc into the air with his foot during practice in May.
Breeze’s Benjamin Green shows off his scraped elbows, caused by a turf dive in training in April.
LEFT: Breeze player Duncan Fitzgerald throws a disc into the air with his foot during practice in May. RIGHT: Breeze’s Benjamin Green shows off his scraped elbows, caused by a dip on the turf in training in April.
Graeme Sloan is a DC area-based photojournalist.
Photo montage by Dudley M. Brooks. Design by Clare Ramirez.