Frisbee and auto racing at Olympics? Not so fast

By Ryan DeCosta -

Ryan DeCosta

College students can rejoice for now. On Sunday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave the World Flying Disc Federation full IOC recognition. This means that there is potential that Ultimate Frisbee, more widely known as Ultimate could see the light of day at the Olympics someday.

Why would Ultimate be perfect for the Olympics? To skeptics, it’s a sport designed for stoners and college students alike who toss a Frisbee around before a Grateful Dead or Phish concert. Yet, while it does appeal mostly to a younger audience, attending a match will show you just how intense the sport is.

It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world. According to the WFDF, there are 62 member associations distributed across 58 different countries, and the number is rapidly growing. However, getting full IOC recognition is just one of the many early steps to becoming an Olympic sport. Flying Disc joins 34 other sports to be recognized by the Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations, run by the IOC. Some of those sports include baseball, softball, and football but they also include some interesting ones, such as chess and auto racing.

Auto Racing’s organization, the FIA oversees Formula One and the World Rally Championship and was the one that was recognized by the IOC back in 2013. It does not include NASCAR in any way, so dreams of seeing Dale Earnhardt Jr. competing for Team USA against Team Mexico’s Daniel Suárez for the gold medal will have to wait, and probably won’t ever happen.

Keep in mind also, there are 33 other sports gunning for a spot in the Olympics, including baseball and softball, which was left out of the last Summer Olympic Games and has a renowned history in the Olympics since 1904. With that said, it’s pretty clear that right now ultimate and auto racing are seen as underdogs to make it into the Olympics. Seeing sports like auto racing and chess had me thinking, “What other sports could be recognized in the future?” Call me crazy, but I think it’s possible that what started out as an intramural based off a fantasy novel could emerge.

They might not be able to fly, but Quidditch has grown immensely across the world since its muggle version was created in 2005. The sport has adapted many rules seen commonly in soccer, hockey, rugby, and football to create something for Harry Potter fans and for those looking for something new. The sport has expanded across many countries, and does host world championships, which is yet another criterion for the IOC. In fact, the last US Quidditch World Cup was held practically in our backyard in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Getting to watch 80 of the country’s best teams compete was an experience that I can honestly say only got more and more intense as the days went by. Maybe the IOC needs something unique like Quidditch one of these days. It certainly wouldn’t be the first Olympic sport to utilize a broom.

For the 35 sports recognized, the next steps to potentially becoming an Olympic sport are as complicated as they sound. The WFDF, FIA, and all other recognized federations now have the option to write a petition to the International Sports Federation, which is designed for federations to state their case on why they should be admitted, based on the criteria that all of those sports have to meet.

Ryan DeCosta is sports reporter at The Tribune and The Yadkin Ripple. He can be reached at, 336-258-4052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.

Ryan DeCosta DeCosta

By Ryan DeCosta

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