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Flying thoughts

BY ADAM SULLIVAN | APRIL 23, 2009 7:26 AM

Journalism and weather. I hate that combination. But Wednesday’s blue skies were just too nice for me to resist writing about.

Do you remember those few February days that hit 60 degrees? After months of wintery pain, we had — seemingly out of nowhere — freakishly warm days that melted away snow, ice, and jackets.

I loved it. I broke out my shorts and my T-shirts and zipped around Iowa City streets on my kiwi-green moped. Shortly thereafter, of course, my high spirits were dashed by a rapid return to frigid temperatures. Iowa weather likes to toy with us like that.

But, I think this time is legit. I’m cautiously optimistic that yesterday was the first of a long string of pleasant days.

According to www.weather.com (and, really, could there be a more reliable source on weather?), we’re in for high 70s for the rest of the week and into next week. We’ll start next week off with a cool Monday, but temps around the area will creep back up to the 60-70 range by midweek.

OK. I’m done with my weatherman impression.

The cliché signs of spring are all around us. Yellow flowers have been planted around campus, girls are starting to wear less clothing, and, of course, many at the UI are still riding out their 4/20 celebrations.

But one spring tradition that has been painfully absent from my life thus far is Frisbee. Walking by the Old Capitol yesterday, I found myself hoping a game of Ultimate Frisbee would spontaneously break out on the Pentacrest.

Sounds crazy, but apparently I’m not the only one with such an aspiration.

According to Wham-O, one of the world’s largest producers of flying discs: Forty-five million people around the world play Frisbee-related games, there are 700 disc-golf courses in the United States, and 90 percent of Americans report having played with a plastic flying disc at some point.

Yep, nine out of 10 Americans have thrown a Frisbee. That’s far more than the portion of Americans who watch the Super Bowl or the NCAA basketball tourney. Not to mention 33 percent of Super Bowl viewers, according to a Gallup Poll, prefer the commercials to the action. Nobody plays Frisbee just for the commercials.

But you can’t just go out all willy-nilly and start throwing plastic around the lawn. There’s a certain etiquette — an integrity of the game, if you will — Frisbee players must uphold.

First, and most importantly, lose the shoes. Some Frisbee-playing schemers like to think cleats are imperative to a quality game of Ultimate. Those people are wrong. In order to fully enjoy spring, you have to feel the grass betwixt your toes.

Second — and considerably less important — a game of Frisbee is incomplete without proper stretching and hydration. Just kidding. That’s silly.

But Frisbee is serious business for some. The Ultimate Players Association — not to be confused with the Ultimate Playaz Association — is the governing body for the sport of Ultimate throughout the United States. The group holds annual tournaments for youth, collegiate, and open competitors.

Maybe it’s a stretch, but I think Ultimate is an excellent example of sex equality. It’s one of the only sports in which integrated male-female teams can play in major tournaments. That size difference between sexes — which gives men an advantage in most traditional sports — offers no definite advantage in the way of throwing or catching a disc.

Another lofty claim: Ultimate is a class equalizer. You can get a generic disc at a toy store for as little as $1. And even the best discs in the world only run up to about $20. And no other equipment is required. No special shoes, no nets or posts, no uniforms.

A $1 investment yields hours of fun. Rarely can one hope that a deal as great as that spontaneously erupts on the Pentacrest.


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