What makes Montréal, Québec and Canada exceptional in terms of ultimate frisbee

What makes Montréal, Québec and Canada exceptional in terms of ultimate frisbee

26 août 2017 | Mise à jour: 10 septembre 2017 | Catégories: ultimate | View Comments

As the 2017 American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) Championship starts in Montreal today, I thought it would be a nice timing to show an aspect that makes Montreal (and more generally Quebec and Canada) so exceptional concerning Ultimate Frisbee.

Remark: all of the data and computations made for this post are available as a Jupyter Notebook in a github repository.

1. The density of population playing ultimate in the Country

The World Health Organization website has a lot of data on the density of physicians (counted as total number per 1000 population). Some coutry have a lot of physicians: as of today, Cuba has 7.519 physicians for each 1000 population while Canada has 2.477, USA has 2.554 and France has 3.227 physicians for each 1000 population. Some other country have a few like Mali that I visited in 2006 which has only 0.085 physicias per 1000 population.

I propose now to do the same for Ultimate Frisbee players as WHO does for physicians. For this we may use the data that was made public by the WFDF in 2014 before deciding how many bids where given to each country to compete in the World Club Ultimate Championships that took place in 2014 in Lecco. And we may get the population by country in 2014 from the World Bank website.

Lot of countries have very few ultimate players. For example, there are only 13 countries having at least 1000 players: United States, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Austria, Colombia, Norway, Netherlands, Philippines, Belgium. And only 22 countries having at least 500 players.

Above all, it is the density of people playing ultimate that makes Canada so exceptional. The next graphics including countries with at least 500 players declared to WFDF in 2014 says it all:


For every 1000 population, there is a ultimate player. Since everybody knows something like 1000 people. This means that in Canada everybody knows someone which plays ultimate. This makes a big difference in the country in terms of recognition. People do not ask if you play with a dog on the beach anymore in Canada when you say you play ultimate. They know this sport! In comparison, in France there is 1 ultimate player for each 24664 population. You got to be lucky to know one.

So many people play ultimate in Canada that there are almost as many players as in the United States:


The above graphics explains something more: it is much much more difficult to represent your country at WFDF competitions when you come from USA or Canada.

Note that these computations were done based on the number of active ultimate frisbee players declared to WFDF. It is possible that some countries do not declare all of them for some reasons. For example, USA Ultimate declares to WFDF only its own members which are in general people taking part in USA Ultimate competitions.

2. Women play ultimate in Canada

Canada is among the most egalitarian countries in terms of women playing ultimate. For each 7 ultimate players on the line in Canada, 2.800 are female. Among countries with at least 500 declared active players in 2014, only Philippines (2.996) and New Zealand (2.827) are more egalitarian.


In other countries, like France where only 1.771 female play ultimate for each 7 players, it is just impossible to get your club to play in the mixed division. This is also why we find much more women playing in the open division in Europe than in America up to a certain level of play.

The density of women playing ultimate in Canada is just exceptional:


In absolute value, this makes Canada the second country with the most female active players in 2014, just behind USA, with a lot of advance over the next countries:


3. The density of population playing ultimate in Quebec regions

In 2017, according to this page of the Quebec Ultimate Federation there are 6908 registered ultimate player in Quebec province of Canada. With 8.18 millions of population, this makes a density of 0.844 ultimate player in Quebec province for every 1000 of population.

Most of the people playing ultimate are in the big cities (Montréal and Québec city). There are 3454 active ultimate frisbee players in Montreal. If Montreal was a country, it would be ranked 7th for the total number of active player in the 2014 list of WFDF just behind Germany (3632), Japan (3621) and United Kingdom (3621).


Note that in the above graphic, Capitale-Nationale is the name of the region of Quebec city and Estrie is the name of the region of Sherbrooke city. Should I recall that Quebec city is hosting every year the Mars Attaque tournament which is without doubt the largest indoor ultimate tournament in the world with 120 teams gathering more than 1000 players (see this video of the most recent edition). Also team ONYX which finished 2nd in the mixed division during the Prague 2010 World Club Ultimate Championships was from Quebec city.

This gives even bigger densities if we look at densities per region. In the Montreal administrative region, there are 1.727 ultimate frisbee players for each 1000 population. Two other regions are above 2.000 including the region of Quebec city.


The data for the population in each Quebec region was taken from the associated wikipedia page about Quebec administrative regions.

Note that there is a difficulty in counting the density for regions that are near a big city (Longueil and Laval are near of Montreal, Chaudière-Appalaches is a region south of Quebec city, and Outaouais is the Quebec region that is near to Ottawa). The low density in these regions might be explained by the fact that people drive to the big city to play ultimate.

4. The density of population playing ultimate in Canada provinces

There are a lot of ultimate frisbee players in Ontario (including Ottawa and Toronto cities) and in British Columbia. Here is the number of ultimate frisbee players per provinces in each of the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 according to the 2016 Ultimate Canada Annual Report that was given to me by Danny Saunders (executive director of Ultimate Canada). I do not know if this annual report can be found online.


Using data on the population by Canada provinces and territories found on this wikipedia page, we can compute the density of ultimate frisbee players in each province. We discover that, if there is a high density of ultimate frisbee players in Quebec, it is even higher in the other provinces.


The province of Manitoba is the province with the highest rate with more than 3.5 players per 1000 population.

The density of population playing ultimate in some other cities

Below I am adding a graphic on the density of people playing ultimate in some cities I know. Cities in Quebec are much more dense in ultimate frisbee players than cities in Europe amongst this short list.


More to do

I am missing data to do more of those graphics. How many frisbee players are there in every states of the USA? in every province of Canada? in every city of the world? how many female? If you can help me gather this data, do not hesitate to contact me or add a comment below.

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