The Ultimate History of the Frisbee - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Ultimate History of the Frisbee
Illustration by Iñigo Navarro Dávila

A tireless summer companion, the frisbee has all the disadvantages of the boomerang and none of its virtues. It is a disc the size of a flying pancake, tossed into the air at the beach, and left at the mercy of the winds. However, while the boomerang retraces its steps and collides violently with its sender, the frisbee does not: it crashes into, at random, any of the other bathers. If you’re going to play this game and you don’t feel like walking, you’d better haul along a couple of hundred of the damn things. That and an envelope with money in it to pay the fine for littering later. As I’m sure you know, in sports, it’s “no pain, no gain.”

Wartime origins

Like most things to do with killing, these contraptions were thought up during World War II. Soldiers spent their free time throwing pie tins made by the Frisbie Pie Company. Although the theory has yet to be substantiated, many historians believe that this deadly disc led to the early end of the war, as the enemy was unable to compete with the fanatical insistence of hordes of enthusiastic soldiers driven to a frenzy by the aerodynamic flight of an uncontrolled tin plate. 

After the war, soldiers no longer needed tin plates, and the noble art of frisbee throwing suffered a major setback. In 1950, looking to revitalize this inane amusement, the first plastic toy frisbees were manufactured with overwhelming success. A Twitter journalist might have headlined: “the frisbee business takes flight.”

The boomerang is elegant

The boomerang is elegant and legendary. The pleasure of savoir-faire. The frisbee is like throwing a soup bowl. It is true that sometimes it soars to infinity and hits a seagull, resulting in a beautiful spectacle. But the one that is really meant for glory is the boomerang. Invented by Australian aborigines in the breaks between eating each other, this device was designed to hit and stun their prey before throwing themselves on it, spearing it, throwing it over the fire, and eating it. I suppose that in the heat of battle, they found no difference between bovine and human.

Soon it became apparent that these hunting weapons had a differentiating virtue: if they didn’t hit their target on the head, they would take a quick oval swoop through the jungle and return to the chief’s hands. This is why most Aboriginal Australian tribal chiefs lack teeth. They were caught off guard.

Satanic innovations

Modernity spoiled everything. Including the boomerang, which fell into disuse, and its place was usurped by that flying saucer, which in its most dreadful versions comes in fluorescent colors to enable nocturnal games. There is even a recent version, with little lights and orifices that emit an intense whistling sound upon reaching a certain speed. Its inventor is on the most wanted list. There is a park under my house with legions of kids throwing his noisy brainchild. Guantanamo would still be too good for him.

An extreme variant of the frisbee is “frisbee with dog.” The owner finds fun in throwing the disc and waiting for Bobby to bring it back to him. On paper, this is not such a bad idea. However, when put into practice on the beach, in addition to getting hit by a frisbee, you’ll also get a bite from Bobby for trying to take his toy away from him. The only thing that can save you is to carry a dog cookie somewhere in your swimsuit. But this is obviously only done by professional beachgoers.

In 1967 a fateful event for Humanity took place: the International Frisbee Association was created, and the use of beach discs went from being a socially repudiated nuisance to becoming an official, admirable and healthy sport discipline. In 2015 the IOC recognized it as an Olympic discipline, dubbed Ultimate, although, except for paying taxes and spitting on politicians, anything qualifies an Olympic discipline these days. Now that it’s an Olympic sport, somebody ought to explain to fans that playing frisbee on the beach is just as unreasonable as pole vaulting, practicing archery, or throwing a javelin along the shore. 

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, which is why I’ve been recommending to my readers for years that when they see those pesky Frisbee throwers playing on the beach half a yard from their towel, they immediately respond by practicing their skeet shooting. By all means, feel free, but don’t tell your lawyer it was my idea. Especially if you’re a lousy shot.

Five ways to apologize

It’s painful to admit that frisbee beach exercise is good for the health of the person who practices it. Not so much for the one on the receiving end of its impact. In any case, if you can’t resist the temptation to play frisbee this summer, at least learn how to apologize when you hit someone:

– “Don’t tell me I went and hit you with so many idiots on the sand!” — say it wearing a large grin.

– “I’m so sorry . . . can I buy you a drink?”— if the one hit by the frisbee is 20 years old, undeniably beautiful, and alone on the beach.

– “I say, Return that frisbee immediately!”, said with sufficient poise, it will even make the offended party feel bad.

– “I’m sorry, it just slipped out of my hands.” This formula should be combined with running away.

– “The end of the world is nigh, have you heard of the Seventh-day Adventist Church?”.

Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, The American Spectator, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, and is a columnist for several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website:

Translated by Joel Dalmau

Itxu Díaz
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Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist, and author. He has written 10 books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to The Daily Beast, The Daily Caller, National Review, American Conservative, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, as well as a columnist at several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain.
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