In early April Stange Sports’ owner, James Stange, signed a deal with Mechanix owner, Brent Steepe, that will not only benefit and support both great organizations, it will also have an important impact on every metro Detroiter who cares anything about fun physical fitness and the best value ticket to the hottest, most non-stop, action-packed professional spectator sport anywhere in the state of Michigan.
I’m much too young to conceive of a time when people would hear questions such as; “baseball? What’s that? Or, “football, what’s that?” And in my lifetime, asking what ultimate is will sound just as strange. Ultimate joins a long list of sports invented in and dominated by Americans. It officially began in the late 1960s at Amherst College, although a version was played with metal pie tins at Kenyon College in Ohio as far back as 1942. The game is played on a football-size field with seven players on a team advancing the disc by passing it from player to player until it is caught by a teammate over the goal line, similar to American football, other than the fact that one cannot run while holding the disc. The opposing team gains possession if the disc is dropped or the other teams’ scores. The extreme simplicity of its fundamental rules ensures that a complete novice can start playing in a pick-up game with no more of an explanation of the rules beyond the two sentences you just read.
The first sanctioned game was played at CHS in 1968. The original disks were made by the Wham-O toy company, called Frisbees, which is why the sport was originally called ultimate Frisbee. Just like how all footbags became known Hacky Sacks, another popular Wham-O product, or how all inline skates became known as Rollerblades, all flying disks became known as Frisbees, even though that’s no different than referring to Honda and GM brand cars as Fords. Discraft, founded in the late 1970s and presently located in Wixom, Michigan, developed the Ultrastar 175 gram disc in 1981. The quality disk soon became adopted as the standard for ultimate, which is the reason that today the sport is simply called ultimate.
In 2012 there were over five million ultimate players in the United States. The 2014 World Ultimate Club Championship was held in July in Lecco, Italy, where US teams won Gold in all three divisions. Two years later in London at The 2016 WFDF World Ultimate & Guts Championships, US teams dominated once again.
“I just remember one time running for a pass and leaping up in the air and just feeling the Frisbee making it into my hand and feeling the perfect synchrony and the joy of the moment, and as I landed I said to myself, ‘This is the ultimate game. This is the ultimate game.’”— Jared Kass, one of the inventors of ultimate, interviewed in 2003, speaking of the summer of 1968.
That’s the end of today’s history lesson, you now have some interesting fun facts to share at your next party. What matters most to you right now is that as of today, May 5th, the Mechanix have six more home games, played right in our own backyard at Bishop Foley High School in Madison Heights, near the intersection of I-75 and 14-Mile Rd. The full schedule, ticket information, and more can be found on their official web page: http://detmechanix.com/tickets/.
When you visit the site you will find incredible deals on ticket packages, super-cool Detroit merchandise, and more. But what you won’t find, yet, is what degree to which you can benefit from their partnership with Stange Sports. For their home game season opener on April 29th, they not only crushed their Chicago rivals, nine tough members of Metro Detroit Athletes (Michigan’s largest all-sports group, https://www.meetup.com/metro-detroit-athletes/) braved the cold rainy weather to play some fantastic games of grass volleyball just north of the main ultimate field. During half time, Stange Sports set up enough seven-foot diameter inflated bubble soccer bubbles for ten lucky audience members to play around in (for children and adults alike).
If you appreciate non-stop action of professional athletes motivated by the love of the game over huge paychecks, the ability to sit in the front row and actually talk to athletes after the game, and combining the fun of a spectator sport with the exercise of playing grass volleyball (free) before or even during the game (with the chance to try out bubble soccer during special games), then be sure to check out the Metro Detroit Athlete calendar of events (we play every sport, including ultimate ever Monday) and the Mechanix schedule for home games.
This summer spectator sports can be inexpensive, immersive, exciting, and even great exercise, as long as you play some volleyball before hand. And, unlike basketball, football, and hockey, every dime you spend on a ticket to a Mechanix game doesn’t contribute to making the super rich even richer, rather one hundred percent of the money goes toward your fellow metro Detroiters trying to make an honest living doing what they love.
Hope you see you at the next game. I guarantee you’ll be impressed.