Mrs. Obama, The Ellipse, and Ultimate Frisbee

Mrs. Obama, The Ellipse, and Ultimate Frisbee

Let’s Move!” First Lady Michelle Obama tells young Americans, but the National Park Service is just saying “Move!” to Ultimate Frisbee players on The Ellipse. That open field in the southern part of President’s Park has been the site of active Ultimate games for years, but NPS wants to plant trees there, and nothing slows down a Frisbee game like smacking into a spruce.

And NPS knows it. The Ellipse is also the site of other popular DC sports like soccer, softball, protest demonstrations, and hosting visiting space aliens, the kind of things that can torture the turf, hence the Park Service motivation for tree planting. What’s Plan B, embed The Ellipse in Plexiglas?

DC Ultimate players are not taking this lying down. They wrote the First Lady about the plan for The Ellipse, which is practically the White House backyard:

“We are grateful to have a person of your stature championing the importance of exercise and sport in programs like Let’s Move! Our players range in age from their 20s to their 60s …. Taking away this opportunity for a mid-week game will probably cut back their chance to play and exercise by half. We will be grateful if you could dissuade the Park Service from depriving hundreds of citizens from accessing these ‘ad hoc’ spaces for recreation in The President’s Park.”


“Ultimate Frisbee Players Want First Lady to Stop Park Service From Planting Trees,” Benjamin R. Freed, DCist


“Aggrieved Ultimate Frisbee Players to Have Their Day,” Benjamin R. Freed DCist


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Image (“Ultimate Frisbee, after Vesalius”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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