University of Leicester
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‘You’ve gotta love the plastic!’ An ethnographic study of Ultimate Frisbee in the UK

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posted on 2011-02-16, 09:38 authored by Gerald Michael Griggs
Over the last decade a body of academic literature has emerged concerning the phenomena of what have been termed ‘alternative’ or ‘lifestyle’ sports (Wheaton, 2004). This thesis makes a contribution to knowledge produced by recent studies by examining the sport of Ultimate Frisbee within the UK. Ultimate Frisbee (commonly known as ‘Ultimate’) is a fast paced, non-contact, mixed sex team sport played with a flying disc or ‘Frisbee’, which marries features of a number of so-called ‘invasion’ games, such as American Football and netball. The data were collected within the Ultimate Frisbee community of the UK from 2004 – 2007 across a range of sites and as an established and active member of that community an ‘insider’ role was adopted (Fetterman, 1998). Data were collected using three methods, namely participant observations, interviews and list mining. In keeping with previous studies on sporting subcultures, foundation chapters are concerned with key questions concerning participation and looking at the social construction of identity via participation in Ultimate. Closer scrutiny served to highlight a number of emergent themes which provide ideal jumping off points to explore highly pertinent aspects for more detailed discussion later in the study. Beyond the micro detail of the study, key findings indicate that Ultimate in the UK represents something of an ‘anti sport’ sport embedded within an alternative counter cultural value system. Furthermore it is also suggested that Ultimate in the UK is a sport at the point of fracture, caught between its ‘alternative’ roots and the modernisation agenda of its governing body.



Williams, John; Pole, Chris

Date of award


Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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