A sport unique to the Keweenaw
The Keweenaw Peninsula is known for its natural beauty, solitude, and recreational opportunities. It is also known as the birthplace of something called Guts Frisbee, in Eagle Harbor. In addition, the oldest disc tournament in the world is held here: the Coca-Cola International Frisbee Tournament (IFT), in Calumet, and the International Frisbee and USA Guts Hall of Fame is located here, also in Calumet.
Begun as a fun game of tossing a Pluto Platter (an early Frisbee disc) by the local Healy family, the roots of Guts Frisbee extend from Escanaba, Michigan, where it was first played at a wedding reception in 1958. It moved to Eagle Harbor later that year, some “rules” were created, and the Healy family team took on all comers, defeating them at the first “tournament.”
The one-hand rule came about when it was originally designated that the other hand was to be holding a beer. This was called Addendum 69B. Recent discoveries have placed a similar game of “Frizby” played at Dartmouth and elsewhere on the East Coast. Its name was derived from the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, whose tins were first tossed back and forth between players, especially college students as far back as the 1940s. The Dartmouth version also included a beer rule and a first international event with a team from McGill University in Montreal.
Guts Frisbee™ is a high-speed sport in which players try to throw the disc so fast, or with so much movement, that members of the opposing team—lined up fingertip to fingertip 14 meters (15 yards, 11 inches) away—cannot catch itcleanly with one hand. Teams take turns throwing and catching. With speeds hitting over 80 mph, players can have less than one third of a second to react.
The disc must be thrown from behind the throwing team’s line and arrive at the catching team’s line right-side-up and within reach. It can be caught on first impact or after being deflected among teammates. If the disc touches the ground or is touched simultaneously by more than one body part (trapped), the throwing team scores a point. If the disc is caught, no point is scored. If the disc is thrown high, low, or wide—or arrives vertical or upside-down—the receiving team scores a point.
The player who catches the disc—or was hit first by it if the disc isn’t caught—throws it back. On the first throw of the game, or following a bad throw or foot fault, the team with the disc can choose their best player to make the next throw. Games are played to 21 points with a 2-point margin needed for victory.
Four basic throws exist in Guts (with some variations): the backhand, which most people first learn; the sidearm or two finger, with two fingers under the disc and thumb on top; the thumber, the thumb is on top and fingers curled underneath; and the turnover or flipper, released vertical or upside down and turning less than vertical before the opponent’s line.
Over the past 58 years, the intense, “original extreme sport” action of Guts Frisbee™ has fueled its spread around the world, with countries like Japan, Finland, Canada, England, Germany, Norway, and the United States all hosting major international tournaments. If you can throw the disc accurately and hard, have great hands, quick reaction time, and fearless diving ability, Guts could be the most exciting game you’ll ever play!