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A few weekends ago, I hosted a backyard barbecue and asked friends to bring lawn games in addition to six-packs and grill-able meats. Guests showed up with cornhole, Spikeball, and even a giant Jenga set. But the clear favorite—and the only game actually played at my shindig?
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If you’ve never seen the game in action, you’ll have your chance this Saturday, when RiNo’s Number Thirty Eight hosts the city’s first Kan Jam World League tournament. But, until then, imagine two small trashcans with slots in their sides spread 50 feet apart. Four players, split into teams of two with one teammate at each end (like cornhole), take turns throwing a flying disc at the opposing, flexible plastic, open-top “kan.” The teammate on the receiving end assists their throwing partner by “deflecting,” or swatting, the disc back toward—or, even better, into—the kan. There are five different ways to earn points; the first team to reach exactly 21 wins. (In casual backyard settings, like the party I hosted, holding a beer in your nonthrowing hand is a frequent tactic, if not particularly helpful.)
It may not sound sophisticated, but it turns out that the flying disc game—which is generically known as discflect—isn’t just popular in Denver parks and my backyard. On the sport’s competitive scene, a world tournament has been around for at least 30 years, under different names; this year’s is happening in Buffalo, New York, on August 6, via the Professional Discflect Association, a governing body for the sport founded in 2009.
Now, Kan Jam World League, a newer group backed by the makers of the trademarked game that’s widely available for purchase, is adding to the hype by organizing its own open-to-the-public events across the country—and its second tournament is scheduled for this Saturday, July 16, at Number Thirty Eight’s sprawling social hall (essentially, a food hall with a lot of drinks and a big patio) in RiNo.
According to the Kan Jam World League organizers, Denver doesn’t currently have any major competitive teams or leagues. (There used to be one through Play Mile High, before that company was sold to Volo Sports.) But the company did receive a request to bring a tournament to Denver from local apparel company B Fresh Gear.
“Kan Jam is one of my favorite lawn games, and we reached out to their social media team about doing a collab,” says B Fresh design specialist Mike Fitterer, whose Larimer Square shop is filled with color-blocked fanny pack/windbreaker combos, bucket hats, and other ’90s-inspired clothing. “We are pumped to host it.”
Players of all levels are welcome and will have a chance to win $100 in cash, as well as swag from Kan Jam and B Fresh Gear. But, Fitterer says, be warned that the competition could get intense: “Word has it that Ronnie ‘The Wildcat’ Wilson, a six-time Southwest Region Kan Jam College World Champion, will be participating in the event.”
If You Go: The Kan Jam World League tournament at Number Thirty Eight begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 16. Playing in the tournament costs $10 per team—register at kanjamworldleague.com—while spectating is free.