Throwing a disc back and forth might not sound like much fun, but then again, you’d only think so if you haven’t played Ultimate Frisbee before.
This game is not only a great way to stay in shape and blow off some steam, but it is also a fantastic way to meet new people.
How well do you know the game, though?
I’m not talking about the rules, I mean the little details you might not know about this sport which just might be included in the next summer Olympics.
Here are my top favorite Ultimate Frisbee facts that I think you will find interesting.
1. ‘Frisbee’ Is A Registered Trademark
Often, you will hear people refer to this sport as simply ‘ultimate.’ Have you ever stopped to wonder why?
It is not just a way of shortening the name.
Instead, it’s because ‘frisbee’ is a registered trademark of the Wham-O toy company, and therefore, technically, the name cannot and should not be used by anyone else.
The term frisbee dates back to 1957, and the term is generally used to refer to all flying discs.
Even the World Flying Disc Federation, the international governing body for Ultimate, risks getting sued if they use the name ‘Frisbee.’ Hence, the sport is called ‘Ultimate.’
2. The Game Could Have Been Known as ‘Pluto Platter’
The inventor of Ultimate was one man known as Walter Frederick Morrison.
The frisbee idea came to him in his teenage years when he would throw lard popcorn tin lids with his girlfriend.
Later on, Morrison came to discover that cake pans flew better than lard can lids and went on to develop a business called Flyin’ Cake Pans.
While developing this business idea, Morrison played around with different names for his new game, including Flyin’ Saucer, Whirlo-Way, and Pluto Platter.
So, there you have it, the game known as Ultimate Frisbee might as well have been called Pluto Platter.
It does have a nice ring to it, don’t you agree?
3. From Pluto Platter to Frisbee
So how did the game transition from being called Pluto Platter to being known as Frisbee?
There was a baking company known as Frisbie Baking Company, and it was based in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
This company was popularly known for its pies, sold throughout New England in tins bearing the world ‘Frisbie’ stamped on them.
Students at Yale, where the pies were supplied, would toss and catch the empty pie tins, and this would provide them with hours of entertainment.
In 1957, on his 37th birthday, Morrison sold the rights to his invention to the Wham-O Toy Company.
When Wham-O came to learn that students were calling Pluto Platter ‘Frisbie,’ after the pie tins, then they renamed the sport to Frisbee.
4. A Gentleman’s Game
Frisbee is a self-officiating game, and there are no referees involved.
Players are expected to be honest and own up when they have omitted a foul.
This spirit of the game goes back to 1968 when the first match was played at Columbia High School without there being any referees involved.
Consequently, this became the culture of the sport, which is what makes it a gentleman’s game.
There are no referees, but there are observers who are officials that watch the game and intervene only when there erupts a dispute which the players cannot settle amongst themselves.
Being a non-contact sport further enhances the gentlemanly nature of the game.
5. First Intercollegiate Game
The first intercollegiate Ultimate Frisbee game was played on November 6th, 1972.
The match was played between Princeton University and Rutgers University, and it took place in a parking lot.
It was such a big deal that the New York Times covered the sporting event, and there were reportedly about 400 people in attendance.
Rutgers ended up winning the game by 2 points, as the match had a score of 29-27.
Now here’s a little fun fact about this first intercollegiate match: precisely 103 years ago, in 1869, the two teams played the first-ever football college game.
The football game had the same winner and the same score difference as the Ultimate Frisbee game: Rutgers winning by 2 points.
6. Ultimate Is Part of The World Games
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) might not be too receptive to the idea of Ultimate Frisbee being incorporated as an Olympic event.
However, Ultimate is part of the next best thing: The World Games.
The World Games is a prestigious international sporting event that has over 30 sports disciplines.
Ultimate Frisbee was included in the World Games docket in 2001 and has been a part of the World Games events since.
This goes to prove that Ultimate Frisbee is an actual sport. Not just a pastime, you indulge in with your father while he sips a beer on the beach.
7. Bigger Endzones Than in Football
An ultimate frisbee field is 110m long by 37m wide, while an American football field is 110m long by 49m wide.
The two fields are pretty much the same size, but the endzones in Ultimate are more than twice as deep as those in football.
As a result, the playing area in Ultimate is of a much smaller size than the area in which football is played.
For a good reason, though, because how often can you successfully throw a frisbee across a 49m distance?
So, while an ultimate frisbee endzone is 23m deep, a football endzone is 9m deep.
8. The Frisbee Made from A Man’s Remains
Just how much do you enjoy playing Frisbee? Would you like for your ashes to be made into a frisbee after you’ve been cremated?
Sounds slightly insane, no?
Well, that’s just what happened to Fred Morrison.
Fred passed away in 2010 at the age of 90. His dying wish was for his body to be cremated, and the ashes turned into “memorial disc” frisbees for his family.
His wishes were respected.
Upon cremation, his ashes were used to make several frisbees, which were then distributed amongst his family members.
9. Over 200 Million Frisbee Sales
Since acquiring the rights to Pluto Platter in 1957, the What-O Top Company reports having sold over 200 million frisbee discs.
That’s quite an impressive figure.
If the figures are correct, then that means there have been more Frisbee discs sold in the world than the number of soccer balls and basketballs that have been sold!
Well, it’s entirely believable considering frisbee discs are smaller and cheaper and make for a more relaxed casual play than basketball and soccer.
Besides, humankind has been hurling flat round objects since antiquity, so it comes as no surprise that ultimate Frisbee is a popular pastime.
10. Antique Frisbee Discs
Frisbee discs made before 1964 are considered antique collector’s items, and they cost a pretty penny.
What would count as an antique disc could probably be a limited-edition disc, misprints of some discs, or discs signed by pro players. Branded discs can count too, such as ones bearing the Beatles or Led Zeppelin graphics.
Besides, some discs are explicitly made for collectors, an example of this being the Ed Headrick Limited Last Flight Memorial Disc.
The rarer limited-edition discs have been known to sell for as much as $500.
Although not an antique, Geoffrey Parker has a leather flying disc that costs $305, so if you are inclined to the finer things in life, this luxury frisbee is just what you need.
I don’t know how comfortable you’d be tossing a $305 ultimate frisbee disc, but then again, I’m not a man of means, so what do I know?
I’ll hold on to the one disc that holds a special place in my heart: my plastic frisbee.
Whichever disc you are using, ultimate Frisbee is a game anyone can enjoy: old and young, men and women.