Spirit of the Game

The EUPA is committed to increasing the enjoyment of all players on the field though encouraging increased knowledge of the rules and awareness of Spirit of the Game. For complaints, concerns, suggestions, or other notes about spirit, please get in touch with us at spirit@eupa.ca!

What is Spirit?
Spirit Scores
Post Game Activities
Captain's Role
Complaints and Resolution


What is Spirit?

"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." 
- From the 11th Edition Rules

Ten Things You Should Know About Spirit of the Game (from USA Ultimate)

1. The golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated. 

Spirited games result from mutual respect among opponents. Assume the best of your opponent. Give him or her the benefit of a doubt. You would want the same for yourself. But if you are thick-skinned, do not assume that your opponent is. Maybe you should think of this rule as, “treat others as you would have them treat your mother.”

2. Control: SOTG takes real effort.

SOTG is not just some abstract principle that everyone adopts and then games run smoothly without effort. Close calls are made in tight games. Hard fouls are committed. SOTG is about how you handle yourself under pressure: how you contain your emotionality, tame your temper, and modulate your voice. If you initiate or contribute to the unraveling of spirit, the concept falls apart quickly. If you act to mend things (or at least not exacerbate the situation) by following point 1, the game heals itself.

3. Heckling and taunting are different.

Ultimate has a long tradition of good-natured heckling. Heckles are friendly barbs, typically from non-playing spectators. Heckling can be fun, but taunting is unspirited and wrong. Harassing remarks after an opponent's foul call or close play are NOT heckling: they are abusive taunts which create unpleasant playing conditions and often escalate to acrimonious disputes.

4. SOTG is compatible with championship play.

It is a fallacy to argue that the stakes are so important that some aspect of SOTG can be cast aside. Time and again, great teams and star players have shown that you can bring all your competitive and athletic zeal to a game without sacrificing fair play or respect for your opponent.

5. Don’t “give as you got.”

There is no “eye for an eye.” If you are wronged, you have no right to wrong someone in return. In the extreme case where you were severely mistreated, you may bring the issue up with a captain, tournament director, or even lodge a complaint with the governing body. If you retaliate in kind, however, a complaint may be filed against you. We recall point 1: treat others as you would have them treat you, not as they have treated you. In the end, you are responsible for you.

6. Breathe.

After a hard foul, close call, or disputed play, take a step back, pause, and take a deep breath. In the heat of competition, emotions run high. By giving yourself just a bit of time and space, you will gain enough perspective to compose yourself and concentrate on the facts involved in the dispute (was she in or out; did you hit his hand or the disc; did that pick affect the play). Your restraint will induce a more restrained response from your opponent. Conflagration averted, you may resume business as usual.

7. When you do the right thing, people notice.

When you turn the other cheek, you know you've done the right thing. You may not hear praise, there may be no standing ovation, but people do notice. Eventually, their respect for you and their appreciation of the game will grow.

8. Be generous with praise.

Compliment an opponent on her good catch. Remark to a teammate that you admire his honesty in calling himself out-of-bounds. Look players in the eye and congratulate them when you shake their hands after a game. These small acts boost spirit greatly, a large payoff for little time and effort.

9. Impressions linger.

Not only does the realization that your actions will be remembered for a long time serve to curb poor behavior, it can also inspire better conduct. Many old-timers enjoy the experience of meeting an elite player who remembers their first rendezvous on the field and recalls the event in detail. A good first encounter with an impressionable young player can have considerable long-term positive impact.

10. Have fun.

All other things being equal, games are far more fun without the antipathy. Go hard. Play fair. Have fun.


  1. If an infraction is committed and not called, the player committing the infraction should inform the infracted player or team of the infraction.
  2. It is the responsibility of all players to avoid any delay when starting, restarting, or continuing play. This includes standing over the disc or taking more time than reasonably necessary to put the disc into play .
  3. On a stoppage of play, if it is ever unclear which of a team's members are the current players or where they are on or off the field, they should identify themselves when the opposing team requests.
  4. If a dispute arises on the field, play stops and is restarted with a check when the matter is resolved.
  5. If a novice player commits an infraction out of sincere ignorance of the rules, it should be common practice to stop play and explain the infraction.
  6. When a call is made, throwers must stop play by visibly or audibly communicating the stoppage as soon as they are aware of the call and all players should echo calls on the field.
  7. In addition to the assumption that players will not intentionally violate the rules, players are similarly expected to make every effort to avoid violating them.

From the 11th Edition Rules

Spirit Scores

After every game in league this summer, it’s the captains’ responsibility to submit both the score of the game, a spirit score, and a most spirited player nomination. Captains are expected to submit these after every game on the website; please do not put off submitting scores as it cause majors headaches for those organizing league. The spirit score is a reflection the other team’s commitment to making the game enjoyable for everyone on the field. At the end of the season the team and players with the highest spirit scores are recognized at the wind-up party. Please make use of these Spirit Rank Guidelines from USA Ultimate:

9-10: Highest level of respect shown throughout game towards opponents, officials, and spectators. For the level of play, showed excellent knowledge of the rules and abided by them throughout the game. Any conflicts were resolved amicably and without incident. Opposing team's conduct added to our enjoyment of the game. The opposing team unfailingly played fairly and with an excellent attitude.

7-8: Respect shown throughout the game towards opponents, officials, and spectators. For the level of play, showed above average knowledge of the rules and abided by them throughout the game. Any conflicts were resolved favorably and without incident. Opposing team's conduct did not detract from our enjoyment of the game. The opposing team played fairly and with a good attitude.

5-6: Generally exhibited respect towards opponents, officials, and spectators. For the level of play, showed adequate knowledge of the rules and abided by them during the game. Any conflicts were resolved plainly and without incident. Opposing team's conduct generally did not detract from our enjoyment of the game. The opposing team generally played fairly and with a decent attitude.

3-4: Exhibited a lack of respect towards opponents, officials, and/or spectators. For the level of play, showed a lack of knowledge of or disregard for the rules at points during the game. Any conflicts were resolved heatedly or led to contentious incidents. Opposing team's conduct detracted somewhat from our enjoyment of the game. The opposing team played unfairly and/or with a poor attitude.

1-2: Exhibited a major lack of respect towards opponents, officials, and/or spectators. For the level of play, exhibited no knowledge of the rules or blatantly disregarded them during the game. Conflicts were resolved acrimoniously or led directly to contentious incidents. Opposing team's conduct made the game basically unenjoyable. The opposing team played unfairly and their attitude was abysmal.

Post Game Activities

There are a variety of things that happen after an ultimate game; everything from a handshake and three cheers, a game of princess cowboy spoon, or even a comedic parody song about the other teams name to the tune of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”. All of these are common after a game and we encourage all teams to participate in some form of post-game ‘Spirit Session’. If you want to invite them out to the bar for beers, that’s great too.

What is not ok and is contrary to Spirit of The Game is to leave without acknowledging the other team after the game is over. Not everybody is going to want to play games or sing, and that’s fine too. There is nothing wrong with a handshake and an honest “good game.”

Captain's Role

Team captains are expected to encourage and facilitate both knowledge of the rules and spirit of the game among their team.

Lots of time conflicts can be resolved a lot faster and with better Spirit when the captains of the team step in with the right call. Ideally the two players involved will be able to resolve the issue on their own; if they are unsure of what to do, captains should be ready to help the discussion along.

The most important thing to remember is that if a resolution cannot be reached in a timely manner, send the disc back to the thrower and the disc comes back in at stalling 6. It is as important to know the rules as it is to know when you don’t know them.

All disputes should be resolved amicably even though you are playing against someone in a competitive sport. If a situation arises where you as the captain are unsure of what should happen, deal with it in the fairest way possible (back to thrower or replay) and make it your responsibility to learn the proper outcome for next time. Try to find the rule in the 11th Edition Rules and/or contact spirit@eupa.ca if you have any questions.

Complaints and Resolution

We all expect that this season will be full of great sportsmanship, fun, and athletic play. But in the event a team or individual behaves in way that reflects poorly on the league or team, the EUPA wants to hear about it and get involved in resolving the problem.

Ultimate is sport strongly rooted in sportsmanship and Spirit of the Game. If after a game you feel that behavior on the field was disrespectful, poor, or unsportsmanlike please contact the EUPA at spirit@eupa.ca. If you are giving a spirit score of 1 to 4, you should consider emailing in a complaint so that the league can address such low spirit.

  • Example of reasons to submit a complaint: repeated dangerous play with disregard for safety, physical or verbal abuse, disregard for the rules of the game, win at all costs attitude, etc.
  • Examples of reasons not to submit a complaint: A team beating you by lots of points, good natured heckling, celebrating goals, working hard to win the game, etc.

If you submitting a complaint please include:

  • WHO the complaint is about (player or team)
  • WHAT happened to warrant the complaint
  • WHEN and WHERE the game was played
  • And most importantly a cool headed reason WHY a complaint is warranted

When a complaint is received the captain of the team which the complaint was made about will receive and email from the Rules and Spirit Committee to inform them of the complaint.  Any specific issues will be addressed in terms of what the league expects in terms of adherence to rules and etiquette. This is not meant to be negative experience, but an opportunity for team to increase their enjoyment of the game. Captains are required to respond to this email, if they do not then or if subsequent complaints are made, the league may at its discretion send a representative to watch or observe the next game(s).

It is our intention to work with captains to improve the enjoyment of league play for everyone. Although it is extremely rare and we hope never to have a need, the league may at its discretion remove a team that demonstrates repeated and flagrant disrespect for the other teams in a league.