Tossing Technology: Can You Hear Me Now?


Published: April 2, 2009

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Super Man—no, wait, it’s a cell-phone. While Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) students can attest to the lack of cell-phone reception in both McMahon and Lowenstein, Finland has decided to actually do something about their cellular frustrations. Hosting the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships (MPTWC) every August since 2000, Savonlinna has garnered interest from all over the world. National competitions have popped up in Norway, Germany, Switzerland, England and the United States.

MPTWC participants, ranging in age from toddlers to individuals close to retirement, may throw the cell-phone traditionally or free style. The traditional categories are divided by sex, and the person who pitches the phone furthest wins.  The free style category allows for more creativity, since the presentation is judged, rather than the distance.  European national champions win a trip to the MPTWC.

Created by Christine Lund, the MPTWC has a very specific philosophy—recognize how connected the world now is, and symbolically take a break by throwing the tether that keeps us together. Lund states on the MPTWC Web site,, that the world also communicates through humor and that the MPTWC lends itself to comic relief.

FCLC students can relate to the reasons behind phone tossing.

“I throw my phone all the time!” Sabarri Haque, FCLC ’10, said. “But [the break with technology] is not possible. We are too dependent on phones.”

The competition is also used to bring an environmental awareness to the proper dispossal of cell-phones. Participants are not allowed to toss their own phones; however, they are permitted to donate their old phones to Fennolingua, the Finnish wireless company that sponsors the MPTWC.  Fennolingua examines every phone and determines if it can be used officially, based on weight.  Once a phone becomes official MPTWC equipment, the participants are allowed to select it based on their preferences.

“I don’t know how to dispose of old cell-phones… I just throw them out,” said Sophia Popilevsky, FCLC ’10. “I broke my last phone by [throwing it], so I’m trying to make this one last.”

The United States Cell-Phone Throwing Contest started in South Hadley, Mass. in August 2008.  Family Wireless, a cellular phone company, sponsors the event.

“When we opened our first store, I was always looking for a way to have some type of competition between the employees or between customers,” said James Demer, CFO of Family Wireless. “One day, this…guy came in and said he wanted to throw his phone as far as he could.  It was a competitor’s phone, so I told him to go ahead.”

Demer slept on the idea and came up with the idea of a cell-phone throwing competition. After a brief Google search, Demer found that a world competition already existed in Finland. He printed out the rules and set up his own competition, built on three rules.  Demer’s goal was to be the first U.S. sponsored competition, while raising money for the Jimmy Fund, a non-profit organization for children with cancer, and to collect old cell-phones to be recycled properly.

The contest attracts all ages.

“It’s popular with the young people. Cell-phone throwing and beer seem to go together.  We don’t encourage it, but it just works that way,” Demer said. “We have families too.  Kids just over walking age will throw phones their moms put in their hands.”

Focused on recycling cell-phones properly, participants are encouraged to donate their old phones, but Family Wireless will provide one.  It’s $5 per person, per throw, but Family Wireless will give each person a $5 gift certificate for each donation. Two non-profit organizations, Keep America Beautiful and The Wireless Alliance, receive the donations made by U.S. cell-phone throwers. The U.S. champions win tickets to a Boston Red Sox game.

“We’re hoping to get someone who is very, very good and sponsor them,” Demer said of his efforts to join in the MPTWC. “We’ll send them to Finland to throw a cell-phone there.” Perhaps Fordham should form an intramural team to prepare for the August competition—the next big name in cell phone throwing could be you!