Spirit of the Game (SOTG) is rule #1 of the game. Ultimate relies on a Spirit of the Game that places the responsibility of fair play on every player.
Unlike any other sport, Ultimate is self refreed at the highest levels of the game, and this demands a strong sense of sportsmanship and responsibility from each one of the players.
Apart from the intensity of the game, and the joy it brings to see the disc speed down the field and being grabbed from the air by a soaring player, the spirit with which the game is played is one of the things I love about the game. I've been lucky to have been associated with a club that respects the SOTG and has been consistently recognized for that, in various tournaments.
The spirit of the game is not about not calling fouls. It's not about playing a less intense game, and to give away some easy plays to your opponent. The spirit is about respect - respect for the sport, the rules, your opponent and yourself. The spirit is about mental toughness, and integrity. It's about being consistent on your calls, no matter what the score line reads. It's about courage, and character. Enough said. The spirit, will mean different things to different people. But it's something that makes me proud of being an Ultimate player. It is what brings joy, to all the intensity in the game!
Unlike other sports, the spirit (of sportsmanship) is not a guideline. It's in the rule book, and is the #1 rule. I think, this is a very important thing to be taught to the new players, specially those coming from other sports, where bending the rules when nobody is watching is an accepted part of the culture.
At a recent tournament, I had the chance to be a part of post-game spirit circles, where teams discuss each others' game including how to better adhere to the SOTG. It's a very special experience and nothing like anything I've been a part of before. I've had goosebumps, just watching the spirit circles of some of the other games!