So I don't usually have the time to follow all the discussions and post replies, but too many people have called, text or emailed me about Brad Williams action at the Peoria event.
I'm not here to defend Brads action as I'm sure most of what is said is true.
Sponsoring Disc golfers and trying t o make sure you get the value out of the sponsorship is a very difficult part of my job.
You meet a young man who seems nice enough and enthusiastic enough to start a business relationship with so you start slow and take it one step at a time. We hand a guy or ship out a box of discs and wait patiently to see what happens.
The biggest piece of advice I have received about business is you date someone before you marry them, you dont jump right into anything permanent.
Brad has received a stack of discs and I've helped him get to and into a few events, he doesn’t even have a shirt with a Gateway Logo on it yet.
So the sponsorship deal is far from INKED!
Over the last 6 weeks Brads worked at the shop, stayed at my house and we have played a few rounds and went out on the town a few times.
Brads helped entertain my nephews and cousins and from all personal accounts seems like a decent young man. Like most young man they still need direction and can use positive role models in their lives.
We are all far from prefect and Brad is no exception to say the least.
The thing is with Athletes and those into serious competition you can never know what may happen in the heat of the competition.
Yes Brad is cocky and like most people who lay their skills on the line against the very best , expect a lot from themselves.
I did initially get the Story from Brad and of course I knew there was much more to the story, after all there are 3 sides to every story.
I have spoken with several people who were at the event and have been trying to do more research on to exactly what took place.
Even today I received another report stating Brads inappropriate behavior towards the crowd and another report stating the crowd was actually ridiculing his shots. I do find it odd that the event directors allowed an open discussion about the rules with the gallery.
Trust me when I say no one really wants the job of trying to corral a bunch of Frisbee dudes gambling for each others money in the woods.
Its too time consuming and takes away a lot of my energy, making it hard to want to sponsor players.
If you notice we removed our sponsored player pages from our site Months ago. Not because of any one particular incident but because of the whole concept. Theres really no "sponsored team" its a bunch of individuals out there playing against each other with little or no officiating.
We do sponsor lots of players and clubs allover the country who are doing great things for Gateway and will continue to support those who want to be part of our family.
Unfortunately, not every sponsorship turns out for the best.
I could go on and on (like I did with the gentleman who called me last Monday) about the calls I’ve received over the years about players we have sponsored.
The list of players who I have received negative calls with a myriad of complaints about is long and they do include some heavy hitters of our sport, Ron Russell, Brad Hammock, Mike Olse, Dave Feldberg, Geoff Bennett, John E McCray and of course Nikko ( who by the way appears to be maturing a bit with age, but I'm guessing could still get a courtesy violation handed out at every single event if someone wanted to).
The additional list of past sponsored guys who I have had to answer complaints about in the past goes on and on, but typically its mostly the same stories, of kicked bags, cussing, complaining about courses, TD's, Baskets! People just tend to call a lot more the better the players are and the more money they win.
Once a player gets sponsored by any company they kind of become targets. Players who are looking for sponsorship support should be held to a higher standard and for the most part have been.
Sometimes it seems as though Gateway sponsored players take a little more heat the other guys, but that’s the price you have to pay when you’re the underdog.
When a real pro athlete gets caught doing something wrong does the city stop routing for the entire team?
Are people not buying Nike gear because Tiger drops F bombs and cheats on his wife with blond bombs?
Most baseball and football players are actually cheating by using steroids, yet no one seems to mind. If they did attendance wouldn't be at an all time high. I'm not sure how many of you have been to hockey games, soccer basketball games and football games and sat close enough to hear the players cuss at each other.
Competition at the highest level of any sport is stress full and I know why disc golf needs to be held to a higher standard, but do we really have the resources to clean up our sport in all the ways it needs to be cleaned up?
I'm not a big fan of sweeping real problems under the rug, but there a certain amount of dont ask don tell that may need to take place until we have those resources in place.
Disc golf has been controversial from the start with lots of law suits over discs and baskets. It seems the 2 big companies have never wanted to work with each other and theres lots of animosity and resistance when any new company tries to get up and going.
Luckily for the game and especially the new disc golf companies over 80% of the people who play and love disc golf don't play in competition.
When asked why they don't come out, most say its because of all the fighting and BS that takes place among club members.
This sport really needs to step back and take a look at why we are not any larger after 35 years.
Brad is certainly not the first and won’t be the last player that is sponsored by Gateway Or any Company that will have his sponsor called, text and emailed after acting inappropriately at an event.
I am investigating the situation and will do what is necessary to make sure one guy or a few incidents doesn't bring such a negative impact on our company, even if it means to discontinue the sponsorship.
There are some flaws in the rules for pdga play when it comes to players behavior that can be helped with more trained officials, We would probably need to have one on each hole maybe 2.
We all know that officials on every hole is not going to happen anytime soon (probably not for at least 20more years) and only officiating the top card and not the second and third card is a little unfair as well.
I'm guessing that guys on the last card are dropping F bombs and kicking their bags, but to call a courtesy Violation on a player on the last card is kind of like kicking a guy when he’s down.
Where do we draw the line and what should the penalty really be?
A local disc golfer and past professional ball golfer and I have been discussing this situation and comparing it to how it would have been handled in ball golf. He stated that he started playing ball golf at 6 and played all the way through High school and college, then on to amateur tournament play and several years on a pro tour.
Over his lifetime of serious golf competition players have been dropping F bombs, kicking their bags and breaking clubs, but not one single occasion was a player assessed a penalty stroke. NOT one time!
Apparently on the PGA tour, players are fined, but not stroked.
Maybe fining players will put an end to this problem or help curb it at least.
Personally (as a past top player in this sport) I don't think a player should lose a tournament for cussing or slapping the chains or laying on the ground. He can certainly be suspended from entering future events after a review, but this decision can not be left up to his competitors.
After more thought maybe suspending a player for a few events for his inappropriate actions may be one of the best solutions.
When I'm faced with a problem I look for a temporary fix AND eventually a permanent solution, its easy enough to NOT sponsor Brad and try and do a better job selecting potential new sponsored players in the future, but I dont think this will make the problem for the sport go away.
I could make the problem go away for me pretty easy,,, by NOT sponsoring players, but I like to help players when I can with disc, bags, jobs, places to stay, rides to events, even counseling and have been doing it for over 25 years. Almost all top players have stayed at my house at one time or another, sometimes for weeks and months at a time.
This sport still has a long way to go and the term professional disc golfer has been used rather loosely over the years.
Like any business decision if its not beneficial to the companies image or bottom line than the program (or in this case,,, player) gets axed.
I know a good representative (sponsored player) for our company can go along way in each community, but should one bad apple be able to spoil the whole damn bunch?
Trust me when I say I wish there was a quick solution to handling the attitudes and behavior problems on tour.
I also wish the pdga would work on more standardization for the tour when it comes to baskets, course layouts and staffing for the larger events.
I'm certainly not hear to defend Brad or any player who disrespects another player, the course, The local Club The Td or the PDGA.
Players should all be held accountable for their actions while at an event.
Athletes more than any other profession are also held responsible for their actions even off the course and field. It’s just the price you pay for fame.
Its quite unfortunate that people may hold an entire company responsible for the actions of one guy.
We try our best to help players, clubs, and events and grow the sport of disc golf, but sometimes there are hurdles to over come to move forward and I guess this is one of them.
What other may see as really harmful to Gateway I see as an opportunity to help the guide the sport for the future.
If anyone would like to share first hand knowledge of Brad’s actions at this or any other event feel free to send me an email at email@example.com
or call me on my cell 314 303 1488.
Thanks for your time,,,,David