I met Gerry Lynas 35 years ago, and have always respected his creativity. But I never appreciated until now how much he contributed to the sport, games, tournaments and graphics involving the flying disc…which most of us call a Frisbee. So here is the first of a three part series (in Gerry’s own words) about his significant influence to this sport and recreation for millions of us. You can also see his video and two by others at this earlier post .
Something changed me when I was in high school 54 years ago. The plastic disc was invented and was commercially available for the first time as the Pluto Platter. It had flight characteristics unlike any ball and better than the usual pie pans or coffee can lids. It wanted to fly rather than fall. My dad called it a flying disc (not Frisbee), because he believed in using generic names, rather than commercial brands or newly invented words.
Although the Pluto Platter was rather unsophisticated compared to modern flying discs, it was obvious to me, and a handful of other enthusiasts, that this toy had great potential as a unique sports implement. For me it was love at first flight. It replaced table tennis as my favorite recreation during college in Kansas City, Missouri and later in Des Moines, Iowa. I took discs to Portland, Oregon for Peace Corps Training and eventually to NYC in 1965.
On the college campus in 1960, we started by playing throw and catch, but almost immediately discovered that different people threw differently. As we gathered in larger numbers, we invented simple games.
The earliest game I remember was Circle Elimination, where we had to sit down if we failed to catch a well-thrown disc. Accuracy was probably the most natural objective in the evolution of these rudimentary games. Distance was also an early challenge. Those two skills combined naturally into a form of Golf with made up targets as we walked. An early form of Guts, evolved as a macho outlet for more aggressive types. Another game that some of us called Frisbee Football (now called Ultimate) was a natural for teams and used essentially the same rules as soccer. (Here is a link to the association’s site.) Early on, I enjoyed rolling discs on walls and skipping it on pavement. In college in bad weather, we moved indoors, playing Hall Disc off of walls, ceiling and floors.
When I got to Manhattan in 1965 I found a small group of discophiles on “Frisbee Hill” in Central Park, and in spite of having a full-time job and eventually two small children, I spent all my free time with the young “Frisbee freaks” in the park. I had been doing simple tricks for a few years (behind the back, under the legs, behind the head, and inventing different throws, sometimes with multiple discs). This was not popular with the “Zen” players who preferred “Flow”, (a smooth, no drop, no trick style). I was called “Circus” for my unorthodox behavior. I persisted in doing simple tricks and eventually it evolved into freestyling. Read the rest of this entry »