Frisbee Means Summer

Some Americans consider Memorial Day weekend the start of summer. Purists hold out for the summer solstice. I saw some kids and adults playing with a Frisbee (or some flying disc) at the park this weekend, and that is a true sign of summer to me.

More than 70 years ago, Yale students originally used pie tins from the local Frisbie Pie Company in the way that we associate with all the current flying discs.

Walter Frederick Morrison made a plastic flying disc called the Pluto Platter in 1948 during the the UFO craze.

In 1957, Wham-O bought the rights and changed the name and spelling to "Frisbee" after the original inspiration. They later changed the rim thickness and top design making the disc more controllable. As a kid, I owned something pretty close to a "first edition" Frisbee.

When I started high school, I knew some kids from Columbia High School in nearby Maplewood, NJ who were playing a kind of Frisbee football game. Though I didn't officially participate in the games, I did watch games there around 1969 that probably included Joel Silver, a student at Columbia who is often credited with starting the "ultimate game experience" and forming a team.

Ultimate Frisbee (officially just Ultimate for trademark reasons) is the team sport that uses the disc.

I also was a sideline observer to the first intercollegiate Ultimate competition when I was an undergrad at Rutgers's New Brunswick campus. It was Rutgers versus Princeton on November 6, 1972. The date was chosen because it was the 103rd anniversary of the first intercollegiate game of American football which was also Rutgers vs. Princeton and was held in the same location. Rutgers won the game 29-27. When the two universities had played the first intercollegiate football game on the same ground exactly 103 years earlier, Rutgers also won that game by 2.

In April 1975, players organized the first Ultimate tournament, an eight-team invitational called the "Intercollegiate Ultimate Frisbee Championships," to be played at Yale. Rutgers beat Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 26-23 in the finals.

Of course, dogs also love Frisbees. I don't think they have an Ultimate league, but if one forms, I suspect a team of dogs from Rutgers will win the first competition. Dogs do have the Skyhoundz Frisbee Competition).

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