I just got back from North Carolina where we were competing in the USA Ultimate College Championships. Seeded second, we felt like we could win it all and were all pretty excited. Unfortunately, we didn’t play our best game and lost in quarters.
However, something happened before everyone stepped on the field at Nationals; something that superseded team boundaries and brought everyone together: North Carolina House Bill 2. For those who don’t know what this bill is, it’s a horrible piece of legislation that essentially legalizes LGBTQ+ discrimination and forces transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their birth gender, not gender identity. It’s truly awful.
USA Ultimate put out a statement just after this bill was released stating that they unequivocally opposed it but that they would not be moving the DI and DIII tournaments that were scheduled for May. This caused an uproar in the ultimate community, one of the most open and inclusive sports communities around, with many stating that the USAU should move the tournament.
The organization countered with the promise of doing their best to support the LGBTQ+ community while at the tournament, and they did. Game discs were rainbow, free rainbow wristbands and headbands were available, and there was rainbow gear for purchase.
Beyond just USA Ultimate doing what they could to support, I think the most amazing thing was how almost every single team came to the tournament sporting some type of rainbow paraphernalia. Some teams went all out: their game jerseys were rainbow-themed. Others warmed up in shirts that featured the pride flag or wore headbands, armbands or socks while they played. We drew rainbows on our calves and affixed rainbow bows to our bags.
As someone who wanted the tournament moved before I realized how unfeasible that was, I was overwhelmed by the message sent by all of these teams from across the United States and Canada: that discrimination will not be tolerated by the ultimate community.
Oh, and all the teams met and partied at a gay nightclub on the last night – fitting, don’t you think ?