Friday, September 28, 2007

Conspiracies and Flying Discs

I like the Ultrastar discs from Discraft. I've used them since day one of my Ultimate career and they just feel right in my hand. I'm sure the majority (if not all) touring players would agree that it's the disc of choice, but that's really because it's the disc we're used to, not because the disc has any special properties. I, personally, can throw both a Wham-O and a Daredevil disc. It's not that difficult.

Pictured Above: Discs. I've used this phot before, but I think it's fitting (Photo courtesy of Jason Moy).

So why does the UPA and the WFDF have methods to determine how to approve a disc for it to be used in tournament play (in any disc based game be it Ultimate, Disc Golf, Guts, etc.)? Well, I can think of one main reason; agreement on a common playing device(s) so that everyone can train with that device leaving the competition field even. It makes sense.

What does that mean for up and coming companies that want to break into the disc selling world. Well, it means you've got to find an early market outside of the federations that allows you to introduce your disc. Then you need to get a population that is used to and wants to use your disc at higher levels thus putting pressure on the major federations to include your disc as an excepted disc in tournaments. This also sounds fair, but a challenging road.

So is there a conspiracy? Well, first of all, there really isn't a conspiracy, but I think there might be a conflict of interest, and for once I'm undecided. For the WFDF I've found no advertising on their website that suggests a disc company supports them, but on the UPA site right at the bottom you can see a Discraft advertisement. Also, note that the Ultastar is the only disc approved for the UPA championships.

Outrageous! Well, let's not jump the gun yet. I thought I would go look at some other sporting organizations for comparison and FIFA immediately comes to mind with their golden Adidas ball. The website has nothing on the procedure for approving a ball, but they do have a very clear message from Adidas. To summarize, Adidas gives FIFA money. I can't exactly determine what FIFA is and how it distributes its wealth, but I'll assume it passes that to the tournaments and affiliated football associations.

So where do I stand at this point on the disc monopoly? A not for profit organization that makes money from disc advertising revenue and uses that money to help its members sounds fine. Does it even matter that much? At best, it might be grounds to demand more from the disc companies in supporting our tournaments. Now if we could just get the airlines and hotels on board.



march said...

There are some people who are against Whammo because they own the rights to the term "frisbee" and wouldn't loan it to the sport, hence it's called ultimate. Least that's what I heard.

It's also interesting to see some of the lower tiers in the TUC league use the Daredevil discs. This is probably due to the fact that TUC gives away free Daredevil discs to every member. Most touring players that get the disc thing "great, free marker disc"

higy said...

2006 Canadian nationals official disc was a daredevil (not sure about this year, I didn't hear anything about it).

I personally doubt that most people could tell the difference between a daredevil and the ultrastar without looking at the print on the top.

Taylor said...

Higgy, as far as our games went, I'm pretty sure that we always used a Discraft at CUC 06. Even in the finals I bet that there weren't Daredevils used as game discs in any division. Not that one is inherently better than the other. It's just what we're all used to.

Sticks said...

Personally, I can tell what I'm playing with as soon as it's in my hand. Maybe it's just me.

I like Discrafts because I use them the most and thus they feel most natural, even though, I think Daredevils are a bit more stable in the air.

higy said...

Taylor-the printed CUC discs distributed to the teams were all daredevil. I'm sure there are teams that immediately switched to disccraft, but the 'official' disc was in fact the daredevil.

Unfotunately I can't comment on the finals, but if it was a tournament printed disc (video anyone?) then it would have been DD.

parinella said...

Did you even read the UPA's links? The methods exist in order to make sure that official UPA discs are of worthwhile quality. I was in the pool of testers previously and tried out some discs that were not very good, and those did not make their way onto the list. A disc makes the list by being good enough.

Granted, there is a bias in that the standard being compared to by most people is probably the Discraft. One of the "flaws" of one of the molds I tested was that it tended to turn over to the other side at the end of a long flight. But perhaps that the reason I didn't like that aspect was that I was used to a certain stability.

Discraft used to have some sort of exclusive contract with the UPA, but I don't think that is the case anymore (or maybe it just applies to the UPA Series).

n said...

I found that the DD disc was more stable than the DC. Not good or bad, just impacts how much the disc curves I/O or O/I. Either way, both are superior to the free Whammo that TUC gave out year to members - that plastic was actually painful to catch. AT CUC07, I grabbed a prototype mold from DD - they're changing to more closely resemble DC as the elite players complain at tournies, often to Wah's face.

Jeters said...

Hey Jim, I read the links. I guess what I didn't know was that there were more discs that were vying to be qualified than the DC, DD, and Whamo.

In the end I thought after researching more I accepted the reality that we only need to have one disc. I was just stirring the pot questioning if we should demand more from the disc manufacturers.


Sport Management Steven said...

If, as Higy states CUC 2006 had Daredevil as its official disc provider and no one used the discs during the games, I foresee a huge problem in the future.

As the game's marketing and sponsorship gets more sophisticated, sponsors will not tolerate the disc snub. Daredevil paid for the right to have their disc used, and they didn't get their money's worth.

A co-ordinated effort will be needed by UPA. CUPA, WFDF and local stakeholders to make sure we're playing with discs of high quality.

God forbid, organizations like CUPA might have to start getting their crap together and valuing corporate expertise over on field player experience.

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