A few weeks ago, I received an email from Ponder, a grade 8 student in Denver, Colorado, asking if I would answer some questions for his school project. I was more than happy to help out and I thought he came up with such good questions that I’d like to share them with you, along with my answers. Enjoy!

1) How have you been part of the frisbee community over the past years?

Since I started playing ultimate in the fall of 2001 I’ve been a member of numerous communities and developed partnerships through my work teaching others how to play ultimate better, running clinics and producing free online content, which I’ve listed below:

2) What is your opinion on how the frisbee was invented?

Since I’ve had the fortune to meet some of the early innovators of the sport, including Dan “Stork” Roddick (played in the first college ultimate game and wrote the Spirit of the Game), Tom “TK” Kennedy (founded the UPA, which is now USA Ultimate), Jim Palmeri (who invented disc golf) and many others, my perspective on this is based on facts and real stories rather than opinion.

Basically, the frisbee was a natural evolution from flying objects which preceded it. Long before we had the plastic frisbee, people were throwing cardboard lids from ice cream containers and other containers, pie plates, and the discus. The frisbee game about when Fred Morrison developed a plastic mold for the frisbee which got it’s name from the Frisbie Pie Company out of Bridgeport, Connecticut (that history is well documented online).

So, a short answer would be that I think the frisbee was a natural evolution where upon the materials were finally available at a low enough cost that we were able to design and manufacture a flying disc made out of plastic.

3) How will the game of frisbee and the sport of Ultimate change over the next few years do you think?

I think the game of ultimate will be shaped by a few factors in the next few years – juniors ultimate, college ultimate and pro ultimate. Juniors and college will be heavily impacted by pro ultimate.

With regards to the sport of flying disc (which incorporates all disc sports) my goal, and the reason I am so involved, is that we are able to establish a presence similar to what existed in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Similar to the X-Games that we know today, there was the World Frisbee Championships where all of the disc sports (including ultimate, dog disc and overalls) were held in the same place and a World Champion was crowned in each sport. Since a lot of the original influencers are nearing retirement (50’s/60’s) there needs to be a movement from the youth to preserve this history, and to teach/inspire others to get involved. So that’s what my dream is.

4) How has Ultimate gained popularity over the past decades?

To be honest, in a sense, ultimate is regaining the glory that it once had in the late 70’s/early 80’s which I talked about above. When Wham-O (at the time the only disc company, and in fact, they hold the trademark on the word “frisbee”) stopped sponsoring the Frisbee Championships, involvement in the sport pretty much died. There was no internet back then, no email, no youtube, so it was much more difficult to connect with other frisbee players – it was all done through word of mouth, mailouts and phone calls (which I’m sure weren’t cheap back then). However, to be fair, ultimate has also become much more mainstream than it once was as it grows in popularity with colleges and as more athletes get into the sport. and it’s becoming more of a household sport than it once was. We’re probably 30 years behind sports like soccer and football.

5) What does the establishment of two professional Ultimate leagues (AUDL and MLU) mean for the popularity of the sport?

I think by having the pro leagues we’ll see more chances for sponsorship of the sport, more exposure to a large audience (which we’ve already seen with many highlights being shown on ESPN) and more role models for kids as they hear about/start off in the sport. I posted an article today on the value of having women role models in sport (www.ultimaterob.com), so I think it’s also important that we celebrate women’s ultimate as much as men’s since frisbee is such a great sport for girls to get into.

6) What makes Ultimate a unique sport?

To me, honestly, there are only 2 unique things about ultimate. The first being that there are no refs (yes we have observers at many levels now but by and large, you play unofficiated and have to make your own calls). The second being that a disc is unlike any other sports object. For one, we are directly connected between the disc and our body (whereas golf or baseball, the ball is hit with an object). And a frisbee is different than a ball or a puck because it’s not a slave to gravity like those objects are. A frisbee flies; a ball does not. The other elements of ultimate (running, jumping, cutting, diving, catching) exist in other sports.

“Frisbee is the union between man’s greatest tool, his hand, with his greatest dream, to fly.”

“When a ball dreams, it dreams that it’s a frisbee.”

7) What are some other sports/games that involve a frisbee?

Some other sports involving a disc are:

  1. Disc golf

  2. Dog disc (distance, freestyle, toss and fetch and other games)

  3. Overall (like a heptathlon in track and field consisting of 7 events)

    1. Distance

    2. Disc Golf

    3. Freestyle

    4. DDC

    5. Accuracy

    6. Discathon

    7. Self Caught Flight (which is comprised of Maximum Time Aloft (MTA) and Throw Run Catch (TRC))

  4. Guts

  5. Goaltimate

  6. Kanjam

  7. Frockey
  8. There are others (like Froccer, Basebee, etc) – basically take a sport and invent a way to play it with a disc. The original Frisbee Fastbacks from Wham-O said on the underside “Play Catch. Invent Games.”

8) How has frisbee affected your life?

Honestly, Frisbee is the reason for where I am today. My mom died in May 2001 after a heart attack and the only thing that got me through it was going out and throwing a frisbee for hours at a time. From there, I got into ultimate, then later disc golf, overalls and dog disc. I built a website and started doing some design and marketing when I ran the Dal King’s Ultimate Team which was over 10 years ago – and that’s what I do in my full time job today. It’s gotten me through a lot of hard times in my life, it’s helped me discover my passion, I’ve had the fortune to meet some of the most passionate, inspiring and inspiring people ever and consider myself very lucky to have them as my mentors. Without Frisbee, I honestly don’t know what I’d be doing or where I’d be. Because of Frisbee, I’ve been able to travel the World, meet people from more countries than I can name and had some of the most interesting conversations and experiences of my life.

9) What life skills have Ultimate taught you?

See my answer in 8) above…

10) Which brand is best for buying Frisbees/sports discs from?

Great question but tough to answer. Short answer is: it depends on what you want to do with it. I’ll break it down that way below:

  1. Ultimate: Discraft, Daredevil, Innova or Wham-O

  2. Disc golf: Innova or Discraft but there are tons of other disc manufacturers as well (Prodigy, Legacy, Gateway, etc)

  3. Distance: any good golf disc driver (I prefer the Innova Champion Blizzard Boss and Katana)

  4. Self Caught Flight: Ultimate disc, Innova Condor or Lynx (old school golf disc) or Wham-O Fastback

  5. Dog disc: Hero Disc, Wham-O Fastback or Hyperflite discs (although I prefer Hero)

  6. Accuracy: Ultimate disc or Innova Zephyr

  7. Guts: Wham-O Guts Frisbee

  8. Freestyle: Discraft Skystyler

  9. DDC: Wham-O DDC Frisbee

Written by Ultimate Rob

Rob McLeod is a disc sports competitor, a 13 time World Record holder (including 6 Guinness World Records), 10-time World Champion, 2 time Quadruped title holder and currently holds the Canadian Distance Record. He created ultimaterob.com in 2009.