I was torn whether to start this discussion. I was worried it may be a bit over the top or seem too braggardly or pompous. I don't mean it that way. I just want to share the joy. I bounced it off a few friends who gave me the green light. So here we go..
Damn, being sponsored is fun! The first dozen years I played this game I was not sponsored. I actually had to buy discs and shirts and bags and stuff. It seems so long ago now.
I spent three terms on the PDGA Board Of Directors. I purposely tried and threw discs from both Discraft and Innova. By the way both are great companies and make great discs. I also tried Gateway and Lightning and Aerobie and anything else I could get my hands on. Even though I live in Michigan (home of Discraft) I didn't think it was right to vote on PDGA policies but only support one company. Once I left the Board I could not turn down an invitation to join Team Discraft.
So please partake of a glimpse of being sponsored and one of the most fun things to do: Raid the Candy Factory!! You have all walked into stores that carry discs. There are racks of discs to choose from. Now take that idea to a grander scale. The factory has thousands of discs! There are boxes stacked on shelves that reach 30 feet high. There are racks and racks and racks where the discs are segregated by type and color. You can touch them and compare them and they are free.
There are cabinets filled with shirts and hats and towels and jackets and hoodies and goodies. And they are free. There are posters and stickers and banners and bags. And they are free.
So I was in the factory a few weeks ago. Based on my allotment (The yearly number of discs you start with) and bonuses (for performance and promotions) I still had around a hundred (a hundred!!) coming my way. It was late October so I wanted to keep some in reserve in case something new came out so I decided to collect 75 discs. Now I don't really need any discs. But what does need have to do with it? Well, for the next hour or so I was on the hunt. Where do you start? What do you pick?
I spoke with Mike Wagner who runs production to get his advice on the new runs. He knows my preferences and steered me to the new Z Crushes and ESP Pulses. BTW, Mike was right on. They are great runs for anyone who throws forehand or has a very strong backhand. I was also looking for an overstable run of Flashes that came out last year. Mike went into storage and pulled some of those out, too. The new hot pink Z Buzzzes are totally flat topped and I had to take some of those. Discraft finally made a run of Soft Magnets in bright pink ( I love bright pink- it is the easiest color to find in any conditions). The pink Magnets are soft but not too soft. They are grippy but still have a backbone to them, not all floppy like some soft putters. Oh, yes I took some of those.
I live about a 20 minute drive away from Discraft so a visit to the factory is a somewhat common occurrence for me. I recall last summer a bunch of the Team members came into town to play in the Discraft Great Lakes Open in nearby Ann Arbor. Usually Team members have their discs shipped to them so a visit to the factory is a rare treat. You might think for some top Pro that picking out discs would be no big deal. Wrong. These guys and chicks were ravenous. It was like a feeding frenzy. It was so much fun to watch. Once there were about a dozen Pros all going at it. It was pandemonium. Some Pro would find a box of some beloved run and yell out what he found. All the other Pros would sprint over to inspect them and grab a handful. Then some new Pro would arrive and start looking at what the other Pros had already collected. If there were no more of that disc then the bargaining would start even while the boxes were being filled. Then Wagner or Kenner would make an appearance and they would get mobbed with players wanting to know whether they could get this disc in this color from this run. So Mike would walk to some hidden stash of boxes and have a trail of Pros following him in procession.
You may have seen those TV shows where people could win a shopping spree for a short time and they run around frantically while the stopwatch ticks away. Well the factory is about the size of a Supermarket, so you get the idea.
Well, anyway, it is a blast to be sponsored. And I would like to thank my sponsor for all they do for the Team and to promote the game. I know for sure Discraft treats their Team very well. So thank you Jim Kenner and Mike Wagner and Pad Timmons and Brian Sullivan and Marnie White and all the folks at Discraft.
It is a dream of many players to land a sponsorship. The common question is what it takes to be sponsored. To that question I have little insight since I am not a Discraft employee or stakeholder and am not involved in those decisions. I am sure for every company, they have their own procedure and standards.