I have the privilege and honor of being a member of the All Star Ultimate Tour 2016. It’s an experience unlike any I’ve ever known—the mountains and grass plains, the highway rumble strips lulling me to sleep, the amazing plays women make in every game.
However, my privilege in the ultimate community extends far beyond this ASUT opportunity. I am a white, college-educated, able-bodied woman. The ultimate community prides itself on its warmth and inclusivity, and I’ve experienced both in spades. But does our community extend that welcome to everyone, particularly those who are not white, college-educated, or able-bodied?
Becoming an elite ultimate athlete requires both time and disposable income, and so the socioeconomic fabric of our ultimate community becomes somewhat predetermined. The ultimate community in the USA is predominantly college-educated and white, with disposable income to spare. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part, ultimate is a sport of privilege. Inherent in privilege is exclusivity, and thus certain people are denied access to the ultimate community.
So how can we reach a wider and more diverse frisbee community, across socioeconomic and racial bounds? How can we invite more voices of color into this conversation? How can we transform our community to be more accessible, welcoming, and empowering of all interested athletes?
One way to start is by listening to people, voices, and organizations that advocate for change and accessibility within the sport (Yay AGE UP!). With these perspectives, we can be better equipped to join the dialogue and admit the gaps in our own culture and community. It’s time for us to think about who we want to be.
To be honest, I’ve only recently begun thinking about these issues (evidence of my own privilege, to be sure). But in the small conversations I’ve had thus far, I’ve been humbled and challenged to think beyond my own perspective, to consider the parasitic relationship of oppression and privilege, to understand that there is no quick fix.
To those who’ve given their time and energy to explain their thoughts on the ultimate community and privilege, thank you. I can only hope that we start to ask more questions, and more importantly, that we start to listen.