A guide for perplexed Frisbee watchers:
Yesterday, thousands of people, accompanied by their dogs and disks, flocked to the Smithsonian's seventh annual Frisbee Disc Festival. Here's what you could have learned: The People
* "Serious disk throwers": The Velasquez brothers, Erwin, 24, and Jens, 28, for example. They bill themselves as a team. "We do this for a living," says Jens, flashing a smile and flipping a Frisbee behind his head, then rolling it across his shoulders. They're trying to jazz up the Frisbee persona, he says, by putting pizazz in their act, which they take on tour across the country.
"There's not as much media exposure in Frisbee like there is in tennis . . . there aren't any John McEnroes . . . there aren't any John Travoltas in Frisbee." Jens Velasquez and his brother Erwin don't dress like the other disc throwers. They wear black tights, leg warmers and "world championship" T-shirts with their names on it. "We can do this as a Las Vegas act." He punctuates the statement with a flamingo catch. (See definition below.) He stops the acrobatics for a moment, looking around the field. "We've got to get away from the jock-type look. We want to go out there looking like a million dollars."
* "The Beginner": Clinton Loy stands there squinting, clutching his disk to his chest. Clinton is 2 years old. Mom says he's been playing for a month. Dad is off somewhere perfecting his throw. What does Clinton, who is squashing a disk on his head at the moment, think of Frisbee?
To prove this he whirls his red disk off into the crowd, its flight interrupted by the knee of a surprised cyclist. Clinton looks innocently the other way.
What would Mom think if Clinton grew up to be a professional disk thrower?
"That'd be fine with me," she says, laughing.
* "The Moonlighter": This is the player who has a bumper sticker on his car that reads, "I'd rather be playing Frisbee." Rick Watson, 27, has come all the way from Manning, S.C., to partake in the events. Frisbee is not Watson's occupation. "I wish it was. I own a carpet cleaning business." Watson throws the disk up in the air, then magically makes the object spin against his front teeth. "Tooth delay" is his specialty. His dentist doesn't object: "I've got hard enamel."
* "The Spectator": He or she is there just to watch, cheering the disk players on and admiring their form. For instance, one female law student, watching a frisbee race, exclaimed, "These guys have great legs!"
* "The Student": Bronwyn Ryan, 21, from New York, was applauded enthusiastically for her free-style maneuvers. After her demonstration she stopped to talk about the sport. "I practice about two hours a day," she said. She doesn't want to make a career out of it. "I'm studying to be an actress." But she does take Frisbee seriously and believes that women "have the potential to be as good as men--there are just fewer women playing right now." The Equipment
* "Artificial nails" are thin pieces of plastic that are glued to the players' nails. Jens Velasquez claims all the serious players wear the plastic nails.
"Silicone" is important, he adds. You spray it on the disc. "It's like wax to skis. It enhances the spin."
* "The Sweat Band": It looks cool. The Moves
* "Throws": "There are three basic throws: (1) the backhand throw; (2) the side hand throw; and (3) the overhand wrist throw," says Jens Velasquez, demonstrating and lecturing simultaneously.
* "The Flamingo Catch": When you catch the frisbee under one leg.
* "The Flamingo-osis Catch": A variation on the Flamingo in which the Frisbee is spinning in the opposite direction.
* "The Chest Roll": This is when you roll it across your chest, from one outstrecthed palm to the other.
* "The Back Roll": This is when you roll it across your back from one palm to the other.
* "The Nail Delay": You extend one finger and twirl the disk on the fake finger tip.
* "Frisbee Ultimate": This is a game similar to rugby, football and soccer in that it has goals and teams.A real team sport.
* "Frisbee Golf": This game uses giant holes, called "hole poles," in which the players try to land their Frisbees. During golf match at yesterday's festival, the announcer excitedly said of one player's performance, "He really Jack Paar'd all three holes."
* "Frisbee Finger": Not unlike tennis elbow but less severe. The disk thrower's middle finger often suffers painful calluses. Frisbee finger can be avoided by wrapping the area with surgical tape.