Monday, August 20, 2018

Has ESPN Become The Holy Grail Of Disc Golf?

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Unless you’ve been off the grid for the last several weeks, you have probably heard about the incredible round put together by Paul McBeth during the Discraft Great Lakes Open. During round two of the event, it seems as if Beast Mode had been activated after a rather long hiatus, and McBeth managed to shoot an 18 down for the day.

While that was impressive enough on its own, it also earned him a spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter, but instead of a quick clip featuring one shot, a nearly two-minute segment highlighted the bulk of his round. The Internet practically broke, as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram was full of chatter about this incredible accomplishment. The icing on the cake? It was also Paul’s birthday.

Defining “Success”

If you take a snapshot of what the disc golf world has said about this round and its subsequent TV spot, you’d think that “making it” in the sport was heavily tied to being featured on ESPN. While Paul’s round was truly nothing short of miraculous, one has to wonder, is this the highest level of success in the sport?

The obvious answer is no, but time and time again, you can find shares and reshares of shaky home videos of people’s televisions as an ace lands on the Top 10 list for a handful of seconds. Less fanfare is given to those who shoot 1100-rated rounds, or for the players who far surpassed their own previous best rounds at a given course.

When it comes down to it, success in disc golf isn’t about making the big bucks or even about being featured on television, although both of those things are pretty nice. Success comes from your own internal barometer of what feels right and what personal milestones make you feel like you have accomplished something huge.

The Future Of The Sport

With that being said, the more we can spread disc golf to the masses, the better! Paul’s segment on ESPN was certainly a milestone in our sport, as one can only guess how many millions of viewers got to see a new side of disc golf. Perhaps that one TV spot was enough to convince someone to buy some discs or was the final push to get them to register for their first tournament.

Thankfully, one of the producers of SportsCenter is a disc golf enthusiast, or else the round may never have been featured at all. In many cases, it’s a grassroots effort to bring awareness to incredible performances, as we’ve all no doubt seen #sctop10 grace our social media feeds from time to time when someone hits an ace.

Since it’s up to us, how can you specifically help to draw more attention to the sport? Is ESPN really the Holy Grail, indicating when we’ve “made it” as an athletic event that’s worthy of their airtime? Instead, what if we all put in the extra effort to recognize our local players who do an outstanding job and alert the media to their performances, even if it’s on a smaller level? We’d love to know your thoughts on the subject in the comments below!
  1. As a true noob to the sport ( I basically started after a "bag of tricks" clinic in late Janurary in Carrollton, TX), I probably have no idea what I'm talking about but I see this as two different things. If we are talking about national exposure, then for sure a TV contract for some of the biggest tournaments would seem to be the way to go. This way we can get more money into the sport so it becomes more attractive for people to try and play full time.

    At a local level, TV might help get some interest going, but in order to really grow the sport, we need individuals to step up and help. As I said, I've only been playing a few months but love the excuse to get some exercise in, and throw a frisbee, which is something I did years ago at the beach, but never thought about throwing in a basket. The bag of tricks got me going but it was the community of disc golfers that kept the interest up. I've had so many people help with technique tips, from Brandon and Jonny at Dynamic Discs in Carrolton, to you tube videos (yes, I'm talking about you Danny Lindahl) but most importantly, just the fellow enthusiasts you meet on the course. This has fueled my desire not only to play, but to get people I know and even don't know to get into the sport. In a couple of weeks, I'll be hauling some Westside Discs baskets to Heath, TX for The Rock Community Church's grand opening and will host a closest to the pin contest for 3 age groups. I'll have 3 of the beginner sets with the cadet bags to hand out as prizes. ( i have 2 right now, but after speaking with my sons, I need to get another so we don't have 1st graders competing with 8th graders, lol). Two of my sons work in Heath and have already converted 6 of their coworkers into disc golf enthusiasts and we've gotten a couple of them their own starter bags by giving them some of our discs and older small bags. Grassroots work is what seems to work here.

    I'm hoping to get some material together to take to a Richardson city council meeting soon with a proposal to put in a disc golf course at a huge park in east Richardson that has plenty of room, woods and creeks to make it interesting. This is a long term plan, but this is how fired up the disc golf community has us now. Keep throwing and remember, grip lock is just another way of exploring parts of your local disc golf course that you wouldn't see otherwise. :P

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