Disc Golf Staying Power?
I was doing some research a couple days ago. I looked back to the very first PDGA sanctioned event that I had played. It was the 2003 Brandenburg Open. I was looking through some of the names and thinking “Ah, yeah, I remember that guy”. The more of the names that I looked at the more I found myself echoing that same statement “Where’s that guy now?”, “I remember him”.
So then I tallied it up. There were 69 players at that event in 2003. Now, in 2011, 53 of those same 69 players have not played a sanctioned event this year. That’s 77% of the field. The majority of those players, also, haven’t renewed their PDGA membership this year. I thought “maybe it’s because it’s Brandenburg….maybe the small town just drew a more casual crowd”. So I looked at the 2003 ZGLO where we had 125 players. I lost count for sure but I know that AT LEAST 109 of those 125 players haven’t played this year. That’s 87%!
Looking through the names there were a LOT of players that were GREAT. There were great AMs on the verge of being PRO and some great PROs too. There is a World Amateur Champion that is on that list of people that haven’t played this year. There were a few, hardworking volunteers on that list that dedicated a LOT of their time to growing the sport only to fall away from the sport themselves. These weren’t all just a bunch of casual golfers.
Discussion…what can we do to increase the staying power of disc golf? What could we do to keep another 80% of the playing field from quitting in the next eight years? Imagine if we had those players in our pool of competitors today. Imagine how big our tournaments would be.
Wow great discussion Jeremy, I sometimes wonder this myself. I guess we need to hear from people who are out of the game now who once dedicated so much of there lives to promoting, playing, and supporting the game.
We need to discourage them from having babies and building houses! (J/K Jeremy, can't wait to see you back out here.)
I've noticed this already myself even though I havn't been around as long as many of you. I think a lot of players have misconceptions of what disc golf is when they begin. I know I thought it was something bigger than it actually is when I started. There is a point of realization for many players when they find out what it really is, a player run sport. Lots of people get to a point where they have had enough, one way or another.
Lots of players play, get better, it starts to take up more time than it "should", then prioritize, then play less. Life comes along. In some ways I'm glad I didn't start playing until after "life came along". It seems like a lot of younger players play a lot, and then have decisions to make when it's time to get a job, or find themselves in a relationship. It's not just with disc golf, people change, whether it's disc golf, a particular job, your health, a relationship, or life circumstances, people get tired of doing the same thing, I think it's human nature.
I agree with Scott, I went from having great rounds last year, shooting 930 plus rated rounds and getting better all the time, then life came along, had a baby, working 24/7 to support a family, you find yourself torn for time. Now I'm lucky to shoot 900 rated rounds any more, it actually hurts my pride lol. plus, after gaining the baby weight I've found myself a lil' more out of shape than usual lmao.
Great post, Scott. For me, it was a combination of life (being ill, work, building a new home), over working myself within the sport, a couple ignorant personalities, and the fact that disc golf became too much like work and politics. Setting most of this year out hasn't been very hard for me.
When I first got involved in the sport it was just fun. I would get excited to go to events because I was going to get to see a bunch of great friends that I enjoyed being around. The work load was fairly balanced and there was a LOT more appreciation than there was gripping. Everyone appreciated any work you did and didn't rip you to shreads if they disagreed with something you did.
For the past couple years the atmosphere on the course was HEAVY for me. I couldn't go to the course without the fear of running into work/work related questions, disc golf politics, or players that chose to find reasons to be mad at me. I'm a big boy...I can handle those situation by themselves but last year it just hit me extra hard due to being ill, a job change, and preparing to build a house. Dics golf was no longer a fun refuge for me. It was just another responsiblity.
When I come back to the sport it will be fun just being a player though.
I think I have realized that playing in tournaments isn't as much fun as it used to be. I'd rather promote the sport by getting more courses and play more for fun with friends. It really bothers me when you put so much into an event and hear negative comments from people who haven't done a 1/100th of the work you have for the sport. People bashing a course you have put some much time into whenever they haven't spent an hour to work on there own local course. Don't get me wrong, there are people who are very appreciative, but when you hear the negative comments it hits me personally.
For me, tournaments do equal exposure, which equals more courses, so I will continue to do what I can. It's not my favorite and if it were up to my wife I wouldn't be doing it. I think the PDGA does need to recognize the hard work that TD's put into events which puts money in their pocketbooks. I have never made money off an event and usually end up losing, another reason why the wife would rather me not be involved, but what can I say, I do love the sport and try to give back as much as I can.
We saw the same thing in Autocross (Sports Car Club of America, SCCA). It's very similar to DG except that it's far more expensive, of course. The numbers were larger (sometimes over 1000 cars per event) but the percentages would be pretty close, I'd imagine. You have a central kernel of people that do it hardcore and the rest drift in and out due to illness, family, emergencies, etc.
I used to autocross. I quit for a couple reasons. First was expense. Certainly more expensive than dg. The other issue I had was seat time. You would spend an entire Sunday at the venue and drive for a total of five minutes. It was a fun five minutes but the time invested wasn't worth it to me.
Originally Posted by Daniel
I agree with Scott as well, sometimes life happens. Changes make us uncomfortable sometimes and they usually force us to make decisions about other things in our life. I also agree with what Jeremy said: When I first started (which wasn't all that long ago), it was all about being something fun to do! I wasn't any good, but that didn't matter, I still enjoyed the time I spent playing. After working very hard on running a tournament nearly completely by myself, it led to burn-out. It didn't take too long for the desire to see some of the great people in the sport again to take over and start playing again, but then the politics started to show itself and the negative talk (or no talk at all). It became more like a duty than a joy.