The essence of Spirit was born during the first matches by ultimate’s creators. Playing against each other, they practiced the implicit honor system, where no one takes unfair advantages in a game played among friends.
Years later, as the sport expanded beyond close circles of friends, this idea was codified into the rules to help maintain this: to keep the focus on the joy of play instead of the “win at all costs” attitude that often arises in competitions.
Players treat their opponents as they would treat a close friend and trust them to do the same. This enhances the level of play. Victory hinges on being the best athlete, having the best tactics, strategy and/or team, and not being the best cheater. This is beneficial to all players and fans.
Spirit of the Game is one of the reasons the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is interested in the sport. That, plus the fact that there is a mixed gender division. That resulted in 2015 with the IOC granting full recognition to the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF).
For more details, download the ‘What is Spirit’ handout that was created by the international WFDF Spirit of the Game Committee.