Into The Multiverse Of Frisbees

By Emilee White

Only one sport uses a football. Only one sport uses a baseball. Only one sport uses a basketball. But how many sports use a frisbee?

In 1937, Walter Morrison spent Thanksgiving Day with his wife tossing a popcorn lid back and forth. This was something the two did to pass the time, it would seem. While tossing a cake pan back and forth on the beach, the couple was offered money in exchange for the pan, and the customers began tossing the pan back and forth themselves.

“That got the wheels turning, because you could buy a cake pan for five cents, and if people on the beach were willing to pay a quarter for it, well—there was a business,” Morrison said to The Virginian-Pilot.

Morrison got this business up and running, but when the United States entered World War II, he served as an Army Air Force pilot flying P-47s before becoming a prisoner of war. When the war ended and he returned home, Morrison came up with a more aerodynamic design of a flying disc made of plastic that could be better produced and used at a cheaper cost, and by 1948, flying discs — the term “frisbee” started being used in 1957 when Wham-O bought the rights to the invention — were being produced and sold across the country.

Going to fairs and demonstrating how to use the frisbees, Morrison and his then-business partner overheard someone rebuffing the product, saying wires were being used to make the discs hover. Instead of getting defensive, however, Morrison got creative.

“’The Flyin’ Saucer is free, but the invisible wire is $1’,” Morrison said was their sales pitch to The Virginian-Pilot. “That’s where we learned we could sell these things.”

75 years after its creation, the frisbee is still bought and sold all over the world for recreational purposes, like tossing it back and forth just like Morrison and his wife used to do. There’s been a shift in recent years however and the frisbee is now viewed just as important as any football or baseball is to an athlete in the competitive flying discs sports world.

Today, games like Ultimate frisbee and Disc golf have gained notable popularity. Athletes can compete competitively and internationally in flying disc sports as well as reach semi-professional status. Numerous games have been created based on original games like Ultimate and Disc golf, like KanJam. Frisbees’ version of cornhole, the goal of KanJam is to toss a frisbee into a can from a sizable distance away, either through the slot on the front of the can or the top. Flying disc sports have become so popular that there is even a disc sport for dogs.

Whether you dabble in disc sports or not, one thing is for certain, nothing else does versatility like the frisbee.

Photo Credit: Miseno

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