"This game has got a tremendous future. If this match was being played down near the River Houses, we'd be getting a tremendous crowd right now."
So spoke Harvard ultimate frisbee team member Eric Van during the squad's first Ivy league game of the spring season, held yesterday afternoon up at the Radcliffe Quadrangle against a powerful Brown ultimate frisbee team.
Ultimate frisbee is today an intercollegiate team sport at more than 60 colleges across the country, played according to international rules patented by the Whammo Frisbee Corporation.
Rules and Regulations
In ultimate frisbee, seven player squads face-off against one another on a 60 by 40 yard field; goals are scored when a player passes the frisbee to a team-member stationed in the end-zone.
Disc-devotees are allowed to move the frisbee up and down the field only by passing; players must stop running as soon as they catch the disc and throw within a 15-second time limit.
If a pass is not completed by the attacking team, the opposing team immediately picks up the frisbee and passes down toward its end-zone.
"Hustling breaks the game wide open," commented frisbee flinger Clayton Lockhart on the quick-paced nature of the game yesterday.
"The goal of ultimate frisbee is not to be the fanciest, but to be the most accurate," team member Donald Berk added.
In yesterday's Harvard-Brown game, disc devotees exhibited the passing and blocking skills necessary to make the game move. Players utilize wrist-flip, overhead, side-arm and traditional cross-body passes on offense.
Ultimate frisbee is a non-contact sport, with players obligated to play the frisbee and not the man. Nevertheless, action often heats up as players use arm and leg blocks on defense, and jump and dive to catch or obstruct passes.
The Crimson team moved off to an early 5-2 lead in the opening minutes of yesterday's game, with platter-flinger Wolfe Futscher displaying finely-honed overhead passes to connect for two long, leading goals.
Moving the frisbee up the field in a well-executed weave and playing man-to-man defense, a strong Harvard team led by Gutscher, freshman Bill Mills and Lockhart finished the first 45-minute running-time half at an 11-11 tie.
Lack of Crimson endurance and the breakdown of the squad's short weaving pass strategy aided the enemy during the second half, as the Brown machine came on to win, 22-16.
Harvard's ultimate frisbee team is still in its infancy. Founded during the fall, it was granted club status by the athletic department during December. During the past month, the team has been practicing up at the Quad field four afternoons a week, running through passing, weaving and blocking drills, and playing practice games.
At some colleges, ultimate frisbee is a much more high-powered affair. At Hampshire College, the four-year old team, recognized as one of the best in the country, has access to the college's airedome nightly for year-round indoor practices.
A confident Brown team arrived at yesterday's match sporting soccer shoes and brown "ultimate frisbee team" jersies. The Brown athletic department has budgeted the team for $500 next year, to help cover travel expenses.
Although recognized by the University as an athletic club, Crimson players believe that the team is not receiving enough support from Harvard athletics. Players have met their own traveling expenses, and during the winter, the team could find no indoor facility for regular practice.
"The athletics department offered us half a basketball court for an hour on Saturday mornings. It wasn't exactly what we had in mind," said Sara Schechner, player-coach of the team and the only female on the squad.
While the game is obviously grueling and intensely competitive for players on the field, Crimson players yesterday stressed the easy-going, "laid-back" nature of the game, citing the fact that ultimate frisbee is a "gentlemen's game," played without official referees.
No Blood and Guts
"I would never like to see it get to the point of the Harvard-Yale football game, when everyone's out there blood-blood, kill-kill," player-coach Shechner said.
One wonders how long ultimate frisbee will be able to retain its easy-going "people's game" status.
This summer, ultimate frisbee stars from colleges across the country will face off in the first East-West ultimate frisbee college all-star game, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Player-coach Lawrence Wiseman said yesterday that he hopes to be able to send a Harvard player to the all-star game.
In the more immediate future, the team will be looking for its first victory next Sunday here against Wesleyan.
At an International Frisbee Association meeting in December, team representatives from across the country unanimously voted to maintain the "no-referee" game rule. The rule seems to work fairly well; violation calls were disputed only four times at yesterday's match.
"Ultimately frisbee is an inherently anti-establishment game," Crimson flinger Russ A. Kaphan said.