A friend of mine, the man who introduced me to ulimate frisbee, started the first ever league in Liberia. Years later he would introduce the sport in Trinidad and last I heard he was in Madagascar surely throwing disc with the local population.
Over the weekend I’m sitting down to dinner after the first day of an exhausting tournament here in Amsterdam, and one of the more recent arrivals to our league started talking about his own experience. Having recently moved to the Netherlands from Colorado, he spoke about how confident he was that he wouldn’t feel alone or lacking in things to do since there would surely be ultimate in the Netherlands. Indeed I’ve noticed, just as he said, the fact that in a very short time, he has become a beloved member of the Amsterdam frisbee family.
And that’s the magic that made me want to write today… the global tradition that welcomes you no matter where you are. The social sport that transcends language and culture, giving you that sense of belonging even in a place where maybe you otherwise don’t belong.
Then there’s the typical statement you hear for all team sports… the bringing together of different people from different walks of life.. for a social meetup and sporting competition. Where conflicts are resolved peacefully on the field, and differences are embraced as something to be cherished and shared. Classic explanation of a sport, but as far I’m concerned, the world could use less talk of going to war and preparing to fight allegedly insane and dangerous “enemies” that are – of course – so different from us. If they only designated more parks and fields, and made more funds available for these kinds of activities.. then you’d see real conflict resolution and cross cultural understanding.
But of course, compared to the military business that helps make certain politicians and corporations unfathomably wealthy – encouraging a nonprofit peace enhancing sport is apparently bad business.