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Contact Sport

Now that's how you play the networking game.

This story appears in the June 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Whether you're after expansion capital, some creative employees or cutting-edge business contacts, you might try looking in a surprising place: at an Ultimate Frisbee game. Once a fringe pastime played primarily at East Coast colleges, Ultimate has now become one of the fastest-growing participant sports with at least 100,000 players, according to the Ultimate Players Association. Most U.S. cities now offer Ultimate leagues at a variety of competitive levels, and the sport has become as popular with men as with women, and with middle-aged professionals as with younger people.

Ultimate has particularly attracted entrepreneurs who like its free-flowing style, lack of referees and nonhierarchical nature. (Players switch positions all the time.) "Everyone has to play every position, so you get people who understand the kind of versatility a small company needs," says Peter Nieh, a general partner at San Francisco-based venture capital company Lightspeed Venture Partners and an avid Ultimate player.

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