Over the last few years the phrase “grow the sport” has become more well known in disc golf communities around the world. You hear it called the “fastest growing sport” not only in the United States, but also worldwide.
Just in the last five years we’ve seen big steps and notable growth, but we must remember there is still a lot of work to do. Some tournaments have much larger turnouts or larger prize purses (in some cases, they have both). New disc golf manufacturers have arrived on the scene. The entire disc golf backpack market evolves every year with new designs and options for disc golfers. Disc golf media has also evolved with new live streaming options at tournaments, multiple YouTube channels showing at times 4K or 60 fps tournament coverage. New educational opportunities are popping up in communities everywhere. We could easily keep going…
What is important to remember though is the promotion of a phrase of “grow the sport” is one thing. Actions are much more important. These don’t have to be huge actions though. Focusing on your own community is a great place to begin. Getting involved with local schools or youth groups are easy ways to expose a new audience to the sport, for example.
These types of effort take time, resources, and dedication. The more time, resources, and dedication people actively put into the sport, the more it grows. Supporting those who are already making these efforts is one thing, but breaking out on your own is another.
As we’re on the eve of the Glass Blown Open, hosted by a company that who is one of the front runners in the “grow the sport” movement, Dynamic Discs, we want to challenge you to break out of your mold and find a way that you can make a difference. Like we said though, this growth takes time. The 2010 GBO welcomed 267 competitors to Emporia, Kansas and was called “one of the biggest tournaments in the world.” This week they will welcome 900 competitors and a large crowd of spectators. Five years ago “big” was only 267 people. Jeremy Rusco has taken this tournament to another level one step at a time.
Large tournaments aren’t the only way to help grow the sport. Contact a local park district or school to setup a clinic to introduce the sport. Grab some friends and do a clean up day at your local course. Get a big group out there and make your presence known that you’re also looking out for a local park. Put on a charity tournament to benefit a local organization. These are actions with a clear benefit to not only the exposure of disc golf, but your own backyard. Perhaps focus on making disc golf the biggest thing in your own community first instead of around the world.
Maybe you’re more of the creative type. Latch onto a local tournament and help with marketing efforts, for example. Tap into your own strengths.
Finally, don’t just let it be a one-and-done effort. Make this a continual thing. It is easy to make a difference in this sport. We talked a few weeks ago about the Mount Rushmore of Disc Golf and we mentioned the “founding era” and “modern era” of the sport. We first said that we’re currently in the “modern era” today, but you could argue that we’re still in the early part of the sport as a whole and we remain in the same era as our founders.
Grow the sport. It’s more than a phrase. It’s bigger than just a hashtag. You can be a part of this change.
So this is how I grow the sport. . .My 8yo daughter wants to throw with me every time we are at the part (at least until she is distracted by the merry-go-round). I encouraged her to stop throwing from her chest and instead to throw across. It had an immediate impact on her distance, adding about 30 feet…now we just need to work on control since she nearly took my head off.
My 13 year old son loves to play, but gets discouraged easily when I throw since he doesn’t have my distance. I try to encourage him to do field work with me but it’s not as exciting as throwing and hearing the chains. When I play with my two oldest, we end up playing best disc, they get to throw but we usually end at my disc (the benefit of throwing with dad). I just wish there were more Friday/Saturday tournaments instead of Saturday/Sunday. we don’t play/compete on Sundays so those tourneys are out.
Growing the sport involves creating a life long desire whether there are rewards for playing (besides our version of the runners high.) or not.