Not a frisbee

FAM, Leganés


Frisbee, it’s a classic, at least in my mind. I guess the appropriate name for them is sport disc – since Frisbee is a brand name. And over the years, I have seen them come is many different sizes, weights, colours and even shapes. Some have even had my own designed logos on them. But the principle is the same.

I would however, like to point out the fact that the item pictured above (there is only one, just a front and back shot of it), is expressly NOT a “sport disc”. Rather it is an “Action Ring”, as you can see printed on the front of it. Thankfully I’ve spared you from the fact that this plastic abomination also had a tail. Yes, a tail. Over a meter long and made of purple and black nylon would be my guess, but I’m not certain. I believe that the package referred to it as a “stabilizing tail,” but I don’t know if that is what I would call it.

Spain, or at least the southern suburbs of Madrid, has a real shortage of what I would consider to be a normal and ultimately usable sport discs, which I’m going to call frisbees from now on. So on Friday when we went to a very large and otherwise well stocked sporting goods store, we found that they had no normal frisbees. And instead of spending 15€ on something that we were a bit skeptical about from the beginning, we took the student approach to buy the absolute cheapest one possible. So three euros later and the fun had only just begun.

I blame myself in part for the purchase mostly, not wanting to walk away with nothing to toss around on a nice day, I settled. After all, it was only 3€. Had I stopped for only a minute to consider the physics of this action ring, I might not have bothered. But I didn’t – I was so young and naïve back then. Because if you look at it, and I’m not sure this really comes across that well in the picture, it becomes fairly obvious that this thing has some fundamental flight issues. Basically what it boils down to is that if you throw this thing in any manner which resembles a normal frisbee throw, it has no choice but to spiral into the Earth.

Needless to say, Nenad and I felt a bit disheartened about our enjoyable outdoor recreation time being cut short by this poor excuse for a toy. When taken into the consideration, the tail on the ring might have seemed like a quick fix for a poor design, but it didn’t help. Granted we didn’t give the tail much of a chance, but we thought we might be better without it and so we sliced it off without second thoughts.

What transpired over the next hour or so wasn’t so much a game of frisbee, but a game of: pick up the plastic ring, attempt to throw it towards your friend, then wait while your friend jogs over to wherever the damn thing landed and watch as it falls hopelessly short or off to the side of where you are and then you get to jog. Repeat. Not to be beaten however, we experimented. We are grad students after all. Over that hour, we managed to find the precise method by which to throw this thing such that it would only spiral a little bit and then settle into an awkward upside down glide which didn’t take long to deteriorate. There was a relatively unforgiving distance that we needed to stand apart and if a wind came up, it was back to square one.

And despite my generally negative tone towards it, we did get some sun and exercise and in the end managed to enjoy the process. And I just got seven paragraphs out of the experience which is good for me. Really, if you only take one thing away from this, it is that an action ring is not a frisbee.