It’s Spring League time, and Spirit Circles are here! Spirit Circles promote the growth of the Spirit of the Game by giving each team a chance to reflect on their match. But what is Spirit of the Game? It might not be what you think…
To get things started, here’s the USAU’s official statement on Spirit of the Game from the 11th Edition Rules:
“Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate unsportsmanlike conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional infractions, or other ‘win-at-all-costs’ behavior are contrary to the Spirit of the Game and must be avoided by all players.”
Since the responsibility for knowing and following the rules lies with each individual player, and knowing the rules is a vital part of Spirit, it is literally impossible to play a game of Ultimate without respecting Spirit of the Game. Spirit is about raising the level of play by tapping into our shared love of the game. Did a player on the other team have an amazing layout score? Compliment her and let her level of play inspire you to do fantastic things, too! Spirit and competition don’t contradict each other. Rather, they go hand-in-hand.
Spirit Circles, which we’ll be implementing in Spring League, give each team a chance to reflect on the game they just played and talk through both the good and the bad. Your captains will give you more detailed instructions when the time comes (don’t worry, they’re pretty simple ~_^). So, when we circle up on Saturday, take a moment to reflect on the things that make Ultimate a joy to play and consider how they manifested in the game. Remember the positive things and strive to implement them in future games. If the Spirit wasn’t so good, take criticism thoughtfully and work with your teammates to improve.