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I just wanted to start a discussion about the future of this game. Or lack there of as some would like to look at it.

More and more I see the best players in the world playing less tournaments each year. Opting out instead for the security of a $10/hour job. I believe this to be a huge waste of talent. It is up to each of us to look in the mirrors and say "What have I done for Discgolf lately?" What can we do to get over that "Hump" ? I have been hearing for almost 10 years now how close we are to major sponsors etc etc. I just don't see the major steps being taken that are needed to become truly a legitimate sport.

I'm as "guilty" as anyone I've been relying on someone else to shoulder the load. Well no more, if we want to see something tangible we need to go out and work full time for the sport. It doesn't pay that well to start but the retirement package could be sweet.

I could go on and rant but give me some of your feedback. Am I totally crazy and should just continue to play the game for what it is, fun? Or is there something more out there for those of us that truly LIVE this game. Thanks for your time.

Andrew Rich
Team Innova Member
Roots Roc Reggae

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Thank you last 2 posts.
You get it.
In your own words.
Been trying for years to lower entry fees, and work on sponsorships.
The sponsors and people behind the scenes need to get something in return.
This sport would do fine and in fact even better without a single professional that makes his/her living based on purses at events versus teaching or being course pros at pay-for-play facilities. The sport has been slowed in its growth because we had professionals before the base was built with amateurs at the grass roots level in the schools and park systems with little to no payout involved in events.

Whether right or wrong, the sport evolved backwards and we're challenged by ingrained attitudes among our competitive players who essentially are gamblers, who play either for money or merch prizes, and are neither true pros nor true ams. Let's use a better term than gamblers and call ourselves simply players.

Our sport could grow to be as large a participant sport as softball where few can make a living playing but many can make a living coaching, selling and promoting. Why do there have to be pros who make their living based on purses? Even Tiger doesn't make as much from purses as he does sponsorships. The best players in any sport will still be recognized as champions and want to be emulated whether you call them pros or ams who excel playing the sport and some get sponsorship deals.
I dont think anyone should call anyone out on this topic, lets not flame people. Some of my friends met one of the top pros at a tourney and he was down to earth and good enough to help them with their game, as well as having a few drinks and just chilling out with them. This is one of the best things about disc golf, that our pros are so approachable and in most cases, willing to impart their knowledge (anyone booked Tiger Woods for a few lessons lately? No? Thats because it DOESN'T HAPPEN in other sports!). Also, the dvd mentioned is a great dvd, I really enjoyed it and learnt a lot. People earning (im sure its not a lot) money from something they love, why is that a bad thing? Any sort of media helps to grow the sport, and i say kudos to FDM, Climo, Feldberg and everyone else involved for releasing a great DVD (cant wait for the next volume). Retailers, TDs, instructors, pros, magazine editors and contributors, and everyone who plays has the potential to help grow the sport in my opinion.

On that same DVD i think i remember hearing that one of the pros featured teaches a disc golf course at his local college. Now that shows a passion and love for the sport, and would be a heck of a lot of work to put together and run (granted, I live in Australia where disc golf is very small, but I havent heard of too many other disc golf educational courses being offered to the public, either here or in the States). I'm sure anyone with their name on a disc is honoured to be offered something like that, and the players are already sponsored so I wouldnt think that having your name on the disc would result in any "royalties" (Im not sure though, please correct me if anyone is in the know, but if it was me I would get such a kick out of having my name on a disc, money would not even cross my mind!). Tourney pricing will be dictated (as most products and services generally are) by supply and demand: If the price gets too high, people won't play.

Lets air our opinions, but lets not name names and make it personal. And how about thinking about what WE can do for the sport, rather than complaining about how much we PERCEIVE others to be doing? The guys and gals who are at the forefront of helping the sport grow will hopefully be the ones who benefit if and when the sport does take off, because they're the ones taking the risks and doing the hard work now. The main reason people give up the fight is because they don't have enough support and they burn out, so support your local club committee or tournament director, they certainly will welcome a few extra volunteers to help shoulder the load. And some of the people doing a lot for our sport we definitely don't acknowledge enough, or worse, we criticise them. Its the same with nearly every sport though, theres not enough people willing to help out, and too many "armchair critics" who refuse to get involved but have plenty of negative things to say. Why can't disc golf break the mold?
like i said , no disrespect to Mr feldberg. I'm starting to believe that people only read what they want to read! i used him as an example because he was the first one who came to mind. I'm sure he does plenty locally, i was just pointing out that its not up to the Am's to support the pros. because i know a couple local pros who are very proactive, but i know a lot more Am's who are. its the Am's and TD's (who don't even play) who fight to get more courses or run cheap but fun and rewarding tourneys to attract youth and first timers. in my neck of the woods, most of the open players come from out of town, pay their entry, hit the ace pool, place and take the cash and skip town, with out even buying a disc to support the local clubs. to me this is BS, sure i get to see some really good players play a few holes for 100 dollar skins, but that doesn't help the sport because no one but current tourney players will ever see it. they aren't helping to get more courses or players into our local community. they don't volunteer their time to cut grass or clear future holes, they show up for 1 or 2 weekends a year to play our beautiful courses win their money and then leave. I've never seen them offer advice to anyone. i didn't include names just for you but let me say this they are top 30 in the world players. now like i said this isn't every pro! I've met and talked to climo and he's a good guy, never met feldberg but i imagine hes cool too, and i feel that avery and doss seem like really stand up guys. but thats just a few that are in the spotlight, i think a lot of pros not in the spotlight aren't as good of people, once again i won't name names. and just so you know i am NOT a armchair critic, I'm very active in our community.
One comment I would have after reading your last post. It's an obvious statement...but it's not just the Pro players "taking" (rather than giving) out there. Way, way too many Ams do the same thing. My theory/philosophy though is that if we get to know people personally at ALL levels of play and chat 'em up regularly, it'll be a lot harder for them not to help out when we come calling. ;-)

I think one of the reasons that a lot of us hold Pro players to a higher standard, from the standpoint of service and volunteerism, is that the sport of disc golf is GIVING more to them than it is to their Am brethren. We all get a fun sport/hobby to play, sure. We all get the same courses to play, benefit from the same upkeep and design expertise (or lack thereof), etc. However, Pro players are receiving perks and benefits that go well above and beyond those received by most Am players. So, wouldn't it be natural to expect that said Pro players would/should give proportionally more back to the sport?

If a Pro player wants to really impress me, spend a few Saturdays running pro bono youth clinics with kids who can't throw a disc 25 feet. Or put on some gloves and safety glasses and get busy cleaning up some city/county course where 95% of the traffic is Ams and locals. Or show up and play a few unsanctioned tourneys where they might bring home enough money to pay for their gas. Or lobby City Council to get a Rec pitch-and-putt course installed in a community that desperately needs more for kids and young adults to do. Or donate a bunch of decent plastic to the YMCA/YWCA, Boy/Girl Scouts, etc. Try and give at LEAST as much back as each of us receive...then I'll be impressed. Ten-times more impressed than watching a 500-foot drive. ;)
Its all about asthetics. Successful crossover sports become "mainstream" by televising well. They need to get the good cameras from the excelent vantagepoints to give the viewer the true WOW factor of a 4-500 foot drive. The videos out there are just far too home movie-ish. The camera work doesnt due the players justice. Get some slick camera work and watch the number of people willing to watch soar like Climos' drives.
Good to hear you're contributing Robey, more power to ya. Its not everyones niche to go out and clear new land and cut grass, some people contribute in other ways, which was my point. Some might go on committee in their local club, some might open a pay-for-play course on land they own, some might sell discs and equipment, other might help to keep their local course neat and tidy. Some might go pro and help showcase the sport. As long as people are doing something to further the sport, thats all we can ask. Andrews original post was to highlight that talented athletes are disappearing from disc golf because at the moment it is difficult to make a good living from disc golf. What are we going to do about it? Well, thats what this thread has been about, but my point was that maybe some people do a lot for the sport that they dont make a big deal about, and generalising about Pros being selfish and being supported by the Ams is not a fair assumption. Lets think about ball golf: Where does all the big money come from? Sponsorship. Who is sponsoring the big name players? Mostly companies that produce golfing and sporting products. Who buys the products these companies produce? Ams.

Funny that, it sounds a lot like disc golf.

People have different ideas about the direction disc golf needs to take. I like to read different opinions, but using someone as an example is probably not the best way of proving a point in my opinion (even if you mention "no disrespect", it still can come across as being disrespectful). As for the open players that do "hit and runs" on your local tournaments, you dont know what they've done for disc golf in their local area. They may not have time to stop and sight see in your state cos they have to rush back for work on Monday morning, which is how they pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads. They may not buy discs cos they already have plenty, and they may be relying on the money they make from your tourney to pay for their next tourney (fuel, accommodation and food all add up). Ask some of the pros who have tried to make a living out of disc golf, and I'm sure they'll tell you its not all five star hotels and lying by the pool. At the moment, disc golf is a hobby that can supplement an income for the top 5-10% of pros at most. Some manufacturers and retailers probably make a modest living out of disc golf, but we're not talking mansions and Ferraris. Once the sport starts generating more income streams for both top players and disc golf related industries, it will take off as it has universal appeal, and is cheap and easy to learn the basics, as well as being environmentally low-impact/low-maintenance compared to other sports, and is able to be played almost anywhere. We need both ends of the spectrum for disc golf to grow, people working at the grass roots as well as people working on the commercial side of things. One without the other just won't work.

The "armchair critic" comment wasn't aimed at anyone Robey, I don't presume to know you or what you've contributed to disc golf, so I wouldn't pigeonhole you like that (my apologies if you got that impression). I was thinking more along the lines of this famous quote (didn't Abe Lincoln say this?): "Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country". Substitute "disc golf" for "your country", makes a whole lot more sense in this context!
I'm enjoying seeing this thread get a new life.

With respect to the feeling that a Disc Manufacturers Sponsorship of touring player drastically effects the cost of plastic. I feel this is a huge misconception. By fostering the growth of these dedicated individuals they are actually helping their bottom lines. We travel all over the world while supporting our particular sponsors. In my opinion, the cost of a single disc does not get effected by player sponsorships.

Between the cost of running a business, materials, Research and Development, Technological Advances (i.e. The difference between a Wham-o 40 Mold and an Innova Boss) the state of the economy and many other factors.....I feel discs are very reasonably priced. You may argue that I receive plastic from my sponsor and have no real leg to stand on. However, it is actually the opposite. As one of the local distributors and tournament directors in the area I am in a position to buy more plastic than the average player. I feel very strongly about the cost of discs. If our cost goes up then as such the retail cost does also. I would hate to have to charge $20+ for a Champion disc one day.

If the cost of manufacturing goes up, Minimum Wage, Supply and Demand etc..Discs will eventually have to cost more. What about pushing for a recreation disc (DX Plastic) and a more Professional Line (Champion/Star Plastic). If new players wish to just play for fun they can buy the less expensive DX Plastic. The Pros on the other hand can pay more to throw the higher end plastics. A manufacturer could charge more as a fund-raising effort (i.e. The Innova or Discraft Disc Golf Tours etc.....imagine if $1 or $2 of every disc bought or sold each year went to fund a tour)

Building a legitimate Professional Sport from the inside out.....Not counting on hand outs from corporations.....Building the organization to tackle these issues head on and first hand.....

When it comes down to it it's a matter of dollars and sense. If it doesn't make dollars then it doesn't make sense....We could show an example to the world at large on how we have supported these dedicated companies that pledged their support.

JFK actually if my memory serves me correct...you are right on about everything else...thank you for a well thought well written post.
What Pros, (those who tour regulary) are trying to do is fulfill a desire or dream if you will to generate income doing what the love. If a pro comes in and takes top place at your tournament dont hate him becuase he won. Isnt that the idea of playing in a tournament...to win. If they skip town and you feel they simply used you and your local scene to make a buck, i apologize. But i highly doubt they had intentions of making enemies.
Avery and Val jenkins just took first place in their respective divisions at a B-tier in monatna...No one complained that they took the trophy that should have rightfully belonged to a local, in the contrary the tournement attracted more locals, generating more interest, and bringing a great course and club to the forefornt of the Northwest Scene. It was a postive experience all around. Did they leave town after winning...of course they did they have more touraments to play.
What Pros do behind the scenes and locally will only be known by those who live where they live...we cannot expect touring players to take a vested interest in every course, club or AM they run into. By participating in Clinics, (which every national tour this year has had, run by Des and Jay Reading) they are giving back to the Local scene...by making Instructional DVDs to help AM players improve their game they are giving back, (whether they were paid for their time or not, whatever your profession is...nobody donates time for free, if someone asked me to re-side their house and becuase i was so good at it i should do it for free so they could watch and be just as good as me in the future..that just silly. Just becuase it is a game doesnt mean its any less important or valueable, if you make it your profession.)
All im saying is show alittle respect...these pros that tour are dedicating their lives essentially to the game we love...when Val Jenkins accepted first place at the 2008 Masters Cup she thanked Steady Ed, not only for the game but for..."the lifestyle".
If it doesn't make dollars, it doesn't make sense.

A very clever and accurate quote! The one word of caution I would have to people who are reading it though is this: How does one judge the effectiveness of "making dollars," and in what timeframe?

I mention this because our local DG association here in Southern Minnesota (www.smdga.com) was embroiled in this very issue with our "mothership" (State Association) earlier this year.

State organization --> Focus on tournaments/competition
Regional organization --> Focus on participation, inclusion and involvement.

Our regional group decided in March that we were going to charge an annual membership of $0 going forward, which was met by more than a few folks at our State level with frustration and "displeasure." Our rationale was that if we get/got more people playing and participating, more money would end up in vendor/sponsor pockets down the road...not to mention resulting in more memberships in the State org, vastly improved communications between players/courses, higher pay-outs and deeper pay-downs at tournaments. Take a bit of a financial hit now for a better and broader base of financial support later.

The jury is still out! However, our regional group has grown from around 25-30 members in 2007 to over 150 in 2009...and attendance at tournaments seems to be up by over 30 percent. With over twice as many cumulative tournaments on the docket to boot.

Every time I feel like discussions around these issues are all about Pros, Pros, Pros and keeping them happy/appeased, it just feels "backwards" to me. I'd rather give ten Intermediate players scholarships to go play in their first-ever A- or B-Tier event than give one Pro player a deeper payout for playing a certain event...because I personally believe that the benefits achieved from giving ten up and comers an experience they'll never forget (and hopefully a fire/hunger in their bellies for more) will ultimately accomplish a lot more good for the sport in the long-run.

But that's just me.
very well put, this is simply what i was trying to convey but without the quality writing skills.
and as far as feldberg, i didnt mean any disrespect, he is one of MY hero's of the game for his work ethic. he put in countless hours of practice to become one of the best.
with that said, your right i dont know what every player does for the sport, definitely not him. i was mearly trying to point out that it is not fair to charge a fee for every player in every PDGA tourney to give pros bigger payouts just to keep the talented playing. this happens in every sport not just discgolf, players are constantlly disappearing and being replaced by up and coming talent. And because many of the Am's may never see a return on that investment, they shouldn't bear the burden. they may never see a contribution from the pros either to their courses, to growing their community of disc golfers or even a chance to see them play. and for 99% of Am's/casuals even if the pros's drum up more interest in the sport, or get it televised it will never benefit them! but what will is more courses and courses of a higher caliber.

you all have made some very valid points, and i will take them to heart, but this is my belief.

BTW i love this thread and hearing the variety of views on these subjects. one on the best in quite a while.
I left the game in 1993 after being the winingest masters player from 1988 to 1990 in Texas and the midwest. I was selling discs and running Bartholomew Park in Austin, Tx. I traveled on a small budget often sleeping in my truck. I connected Austin with the pdga by talking to players and tournament directors and had many serious discussions with John Houck. The pdga was afraid of letting the masters div. get too large, and there was only one , a pro masters div. I told them their fears were unfounded because the masters would bring their children to the game. What the pdga did next made no sense. They raised the age to 40 and opened all kinds of amateur divisions. Now very few pro masters. The other issue is the so called tour. There has never been a real tour that went from city to city in a sensible way. Criscrossing the country is not a tour. With travel so high why not resonable distances between stops. I got into cycling for 12 yrs. and had many masters aged races with full fields and great competition. Now at age 59 I built a course and am teaching new players this game we love. I will not run pdga events here. They let me down in the past. I don't want any big headed ama. and adv. jerks playing here. I'll have open tournaments someday but I am not in a hurry to cater to tournament geeks. I've played a lot of ball golf tournaments and I do not like the handicap system as there is always sandbagging. From my point of view I am looking at the future of the sport and I don't see anything different. Sorry, Larry Mann #3946

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