Something that has been of interest to me over the past 18 years of playing competitive Ultimate is how players treat this 175g of plastic, the frisbee disc. From carrying a disc everywhere with them so they get used to the feel of it and using it as a talking point, to displaying signed discs on walls, to edge-down spiking on hard ground, to stitching it back together with needle and thread after it broke in half. I feel like I’ve seen it all.
However, something I’ve never understood or related to, is why would you not use a disc for what it was made to do: throw and catch it??
Ok I made up the ‘star’ part but the rest of that sentence is verbatim. When there are in fact 5 different (although arguably almost identical) models of championship level WFDF approved discs.
Ok, chill out, I get it: many players keep discs that mean something to them emotionally. Usually that means it was a special tournament printed disc or it was a gift or sports memorabilia. Some ideas include getting every player on your national team to sign the disc from that WFDF event and then frame it at home. Pretty swell idea actually.
The main point of contention here though is that disc will never fulfill its destiny. It was made to be thrown and caught, hucked and dishy’ed off, laid out and scored with. Adding on to that is the amount of plastic millions of players are consuming each year that takes years to degrade whilst filling up oceans and landfills. Eurodisc tried to address this with their biodegradable discs which was a HUGE step forward in this regard. However, that STILL does not solve the larger problem of consuming so many discs overall. We as a community can be more mindful of how many discs we buy (yes, I’m not doing a great job selling 91 Ultimate discs here, oops) and how we treat them. Discs in India cost anywhere from Rs.800-1200 for the top range. So then why do we edge down spike, play on concrete, lose, not maintain them better? Or are we conscious that we really only need 1 disc per player per season on average? Do we share discs with the team or do we hoard them on walls and under the bed?
For the most part this is a mental block and attitudinal problem. Case in point is that if you ask most people WHY they request a Discraft Ultrastar disc over say an X-COM disc, the most common answers I get are ‘I’ve heard its better’ or ‘my team uses that so I use it’ or ‘anything made in USA is way better than anything else made anywhere else in the world’ (damn I really hope that isn’t true or we’re all screwed). This sounds uninformed and inexperienced to me and therefore these people are unintentionally ‘Discs Snobs’. At times when the conversation has gone further a more experienced thrower has mentioned ‘flight path’, ‘quality’, ‘curvature’ which is where it gets interesting. I’ve tried the pepsi challenge with them and I usually win. They cannot tell the difference simply by holding the disc. We’ve also experimented in India with playing with a X-COM ultimate disc at a national level tournament and either players couldn’t tell the difference or accepted that it has little or no difference on their throws and catches. In fact once I played with a 91 Ultimate disc during a national team selection and had no idea until it was upside down and the signature chakraa revealed itself! The question to challenge players here is how much does the disc define how good of a player you are? If it does, you’re a disc snob and it's very likely a case of ‘a bad carpenter blames their tools’ - stand accused!
Ok, rant over, honest.
Whether you’re a disc hoarder or snob, the points being made here largely fall under the notion that there is a lot more to this 175g of plastic we use and sometimes hold dearly (sometimes literally holding a disc like a baby clutched to our chest!). We can do more to save the environment from our use of plastics and we can open our mind to more than 1 branded disc which might be more accessible or made in India. Don’t forget that as a leader within this community you influence players choices and offering the most educated opinion in that process helps the world.
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