Ultimate Frisbee Goes Pro on Saturday

brodie-smith-alleycatsGood news for college inter-mural athletes everywhere! On Saturday at 3pm the Rhode Island Rampage will take on the Connecticut Constitution as the first game of the American Ultimate Disc League. The eight-team league will play games over 15-weeks and conclude the season at the still-empty Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan.

Among the biggest changes that the league will institute is having refs governing the games instead of relying on the players to call fouls themselves. Considering that a 2010 study found that more than 4.7 million people have played Ultimate at least once, topping other sports like lacrosse (which has THREE professional leagues), the AUDL seems like an idea that should already have become a reality. 

The AUDL has also attracted one of the top talents in the game, in particular Brodie Smith (left), who is already a YouTube sensation with his trick shots—and is legitimately one of the best players in the country—and who will be playing for the Indianapolis AlleyCats. Unfortunately, many of the other top players are eschewing the professional world to focus on their club teams and winning the Club Championships which many frisbee players consider the (sorry) ultimate honor in the sport. Throw in that the players are only going to be actually paid if the league makes money, there isn’t a major incentive (yet) for players to join the nascent league. 

The league though is already looking forwards, planning on doubling its size for year two, adding teams in places like Chicago and New York and are planning on offering games on a pay-per-view basis to hopefully increase interest.

We’ll see if it works, considering that finding paying spectators is likely to be difficult and that the best players aren’t in the league yet, the odds seem long, but hey, it’s just Ultimate Frisbee, maybe it’ll work out…