Grow the Sport - Steve Dodge

General topics - anything goes within reason, keep it civil.

Grow the Sport - Steve Dodge

Postby Dana » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:13 pm

Interesting stuff-

http://www.vibramdiscgolf.com/grow-the-sport.html

Who are you watching?
At the top level of disc golf, an interesting phenomenon is happening. Our top players save up some initial gas money and go on tour. After a couple years "touring", there is less money in the savings account than when they started. These players scrape by, but the road is a hard and unforgiving mistress. A minor injury, which knocks them out of the cash for a few weeks, knocks them off the tour. If disc golf is lucky, they save up some money and give it another try.

Top players are unable to make touring their career, which means that the players that I want to root for - the ones that toured for a couple years and I am starting to know and like - are no longer on the tour. We constantly talk about the youth movement in our sport and how the younger players are winning more and more championships. The reason this is the case is because there are not dozens of seasoned players for them to be competing against.

When Andre Agassi won his first championship, no one knew who he was. He had to establish himself, grow his name, and get some fans. Imagine tuning in to a tennis match against two players that you have never heard of. You would not do it unless you were a hardcore fan. That is where disc golf is. We've got the hardcore fans watching, but for casual players, it is tough to root for someone you've never heard of. We need our top pros to be able to have a realistic expectation of making a career out of playing disc golf on tour so that we, and the casual fans, will have a reason to tune in and watch.
Watch. And grow the sport.
The numbers of people playing disc golf continue to grow at a 10-to-20% rate. The sport is experiencing tremendous grassroots growth and I expect, at this point, it is an engine that will not stop. Vibram Disc Golf will continue our support of the myriad of grassroots promoters. The engine that drives the top end of the sport, however, has been languishing over the past five years or so. The solution to this is eyeballs. People ask why disc golf is not on ESPN. The answer is eyeballs, or lack thereof.

If we want to kaboom the sport, we need people to watch. If we want people to watch the sport, we need to have the sport's best playing at our top events week in and week out, for many years. In order for our best players to compete at the premier events, they need to be able to earn a decent living doing so. It is expensive to travel for 20 to 30 weeks playing disc golf and we can't expect someone to leave their job to play disc golf, no matter how good they are. I am reminded of Nate Doss, AFTER winning the World Championship, needing to take some time to determine if he wanted to play disc golf professionally. That should speak volumes to us.

In order to get eyeballs, we need to have our best players on the course, week in and week out. In order to do this, we need at least ten events with a flattened payout of $50,000 AND these events need to have only two divisions: MPO and FPO. There are three numbers in that sentence which I would like to explain.
Ten events: In order for someone to commit themselves to playing the sport, they need to earn a living. If you can earn $1,000 per event over 10 events, then this money combined with sponsorship income and money earned at other events would be enough to allow someone to earn a decent living on tour.
Flattened $50,000: With a smart payout of $50K (see chart to the right), the top 40 players who are paid will earn an average of $1,000. That's 40 players earning $1,000 per event at 10 events. Our sport is currently stagnated at 20-25 players earning that amount. We could double this just by spending current money more wisely (see "Is the USDGC good for the sport?" below).
MPO and FPO only: In order for our sport's top players to be the ones that earn the money, these 10 events can't afford to have age-protected divisions, otherwise the money gets divided up and the sport's best don't earn enough to eat. If a player is over 40 and they are one of the best, this setup will benefit them as the sport will be able to grow. It may be a short term setback for the Masters-aged pros, but it will be a long-term gain for them and the sport.
One thing to remember here is the goal. We want the best players in the world to be able to commit to playing the sport. We want them playing so that the masses will want to watch the sports top events. As the numbers of people that watch our sport grow, the interest in advertising during these events will grow.

With a flat deep payout, more players earn more money. With a capped field of 120 MPO players and 50 cashing, this gives an incentive to compete because regional pros and top Ams have a real shot.

Since the season is not complete, 2012 is an estimate.
Why have we stagnated?
The growth of professional disc golf has stagnated. This has happened, for the most part, because of the creation of unsustainable models.
2009, Discraft stopped its sponsorship of the Players Cup, causing a dip in the number of players earning more than $10K. Luckily, Vibram was able to step up and give the event its rebirth.
2011, Innova changed the USDGC to a handicapped event, lowering the payout by more than $75,000, and lowering the number of players earning more than $10K.
2004 - 2011, Discraft Great Lakes Open payout went from $22K to a little more than $1,000.
The USDGC (Innova) and The Memorial (Discraft) are still two of the sport's premier events. However, Discraft and Innova do not welcome support from other manufacturers at their signature events and this has apparently made some of these events financially unsustainable.
Even with these pull backs, the pro tour side of the sport is still not shrinking and may be growing, albeit slowly.
DiscGolfPlanet.TV is building a model to bring the sport to tens of thousands of viewers. As their viewership continues to rise, more and more advertisers who are currently outside of the sport will take notice. Over time, these advertising dollars will find their way to the events and the purses will go up. This is the long play that will bring disc golf to the next level.
Vibram Disc Golf is consistently moving the Vibram Open forward, garnering more spectators, more players and a larger payout ($38K in 2008 to $51K in 2012). For comparison, the USDGC had fewer spectators, players and payout from 2008 to 2012.
Vibram has also stepped up to be the presenting sponsor of the PDGA National Tour and they reincarnated the Players Cup as The World Match Play Championship. We are putting a significant percentage of our marketing money into creating spectator friendly events that can capture the attention of the advertising dollars that are currently outside our sport.
The number of manufacturers of golf discs has risen from a half dozen in 2000 to more than 25 in 2012. They are here because they see a future in this sport. I agree with them.
Is the USDGC good for the sport?
The USDGC model is clearly not sustainable and, if the goal is to grow the sport, is an ineffective expenditure of the money. Having said that, it is Innova's money and they can spend it however they want, just don't let them say it is for the growth of the sport when it is actually just about them. Over the last decade, imagine if this money had been invested differently, could we be on TV already?
Five Top Events, sorted by Total Payout





Budget: Unknown
Payout: $97,000
MPO>$1K: 10
Budget: $62K
Payout: $51,000
MPO>$1K: 15
Budget: $250K
Payout: $50,300
MPO>$1K: 24
Budget: Unknown
Payout: $47,000
MPO>$1K: 9
Budget: $28K
Payout: $23,000
MPO>$1K: 4
Look at the numbers above. The USDGC spends $250,000 and in one short week, they've blown their wad. Let's pretend the USDGC was actually four $50,000 payout events (this assumes a similar budget as The Vibram Open, which has a $62K budget and a $51K payout to the players). With four mini-USDGCs, Worlds, the Vibram Open, and the Memorial, we are already up to seven $50,000 events. The Beaver State Fling ($33K) and Steady Ed Memorial ($29K) with a little growth, would make nine and The Players Cup ($23K payout with no payin) is a nice completion to the season. This would make a great foundation on which to build a pro tour. Anyone want to call Innova?

But this is not where we are and my guess is the USDGC is not going to be paired down so three additional premier events can be born, but hindsight is 20/20 and we have the advantage of looking at the last 10 years knowing the sport could have grown more.

Let's instead concentrate on looking forward. I would like to ask each disc golf manufacturer to commit to growing one or two events into premier events with a $50,000 payout. If we can get a dozen manufacturers, who are in the sport and will benefit from its growth, to make this commitment, then the sport will gain the eyeballs it needs to attract outside sponsorship and we will be able to watch DiscGolfPlanet.TV many more weekends out of the year. Furthermore, these events need to work together to schedule a cohesive tour around and across North America. It is too late for this to happen in 2013, but if you would like to commit to a 2014 event with a $50,000 payout and will work with the tour on scheduling, shoot me an e-mail.

I look forward to sitting in my armchair and watching the best in the world compete and when they come to a town near me, I'll go out and watch them play in person. Until then, Vibram Disc Golf will continue to push the envelope through our support of the Vibram Open, the Players Cup, the PDGA National Tour and the myriad of regional grass roots events that we sponsor.

Watch. And grow the sport. One man's thoughts on the future of disc golf.

Sincerely,

Steven Dodge
Vibram Disc Golf

Update: I have had one manufacturer call me and commit to trying to make this happen for 2014. Anyone else in?
Dana
 
Posts: 286
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:58 pm
Location: ILL

Postby Chase20460 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:58 am

Yeah. Ive heard it all before.

If the more popular companies on the planet were organizing it, I could see it. Those wouldnt be disc golf companies. Best of luck, hope it works.

250k for USDGC? That seems far fetched.
http://www.ironliondgs.com
"I dont come to bow, I come to blow"- Bob Marley

"Im in the Gooooooo!" - Francine Smith
User avatar
Chase20460
 
Posts: 5203
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:51 pm
Location: 2630 16th St. Moline IL

Postby Dana » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:14 am

I was thinking about that 250K number too. I wonder what they charge to rent the facility/course for the week +??? Then I was wondering about all of the Innova employees that are working the event, they are still getting paid, right? I wonder if that is included in the budget?
Then you've got the obvious:
-added cash
-golf cart rentals
-player dinner/mtg
-food for the player hospitality area all week
-?
-trophies
Dana
 
Posts: 286
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 6:58 pm
Location: ILL

Postby Chase20460 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 2:43 pm

I think its totally inflated. I could run the best tournament anyone ever seen and still partly retire on 250k. Just saying.

...And again, we come back to the USDGC Roc and how much of a factor that is in the event. I see tournaments of lesser caliber spend more on advertising. Innova employees probably arent making that much money in reality, rental for the showcase tourney of disc golf talent ( once, anyways) cant be that much or they would change or create a new venue. Its really hard for me to believe they put that much into the broadcast, but Im sure someone could answer that...

Personally...I think if you could get something like that together it should be run under a different banner than the PDGA, as I think that is one of the major problems with taking the sport mainstream. People have talked about and tried pulling that off for about as long as Dodges' "ideas" have been around. Ask that Grunion dude from way back. He didnt, or couldnt, get the leadership of disc golf to see things his way because he wasnt the best presenter of his ideas, even the viable ones.

Ive said the same thing Dodge is talking about for years, only not on the same scale and with slightly different apporach. The goal would be to find a Budwesier or someone that could come off a 100k or more total to add to 10 Super Tour events and charge 250$ to play the event. 1000 rated or better players ( though Im sure a major sponsor non disc golf related would be lost in the whole rating thing. )

They can build a "festive atmosphere" by promoting thier products and arent there to "steal sales" from any vendor or club hosting the event or contributing to the already large purse. They are more concerned with getting more drinkers there than anything , an angle that gets us spectators, and write the whole thing off on promotion. It doesnt crush thier club or business to try to finance a massive purse like the trend has been lately. Since Pros dont spend money and we attract few spectators overall, I cant see it lasting very long, but who knows. For me, that makes more sense than trying to bury a few of disc golfs emerging companies....which it would.

I would also bet the manufactor interested isnt Discraft or Innova.
http://www.ironliondgs.com
"I dont come to bow, I come to blow"- Bob Marley

"Im in the Gooooooo!" - Francine Smith
User avatar
Chase20460
 
Posts: 5203
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:51 pm
Location: 2630 16th St. Moline IL

Postby tufluk » Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:11 pm

Before we have legions of people watching disc golf, we need disc golf that is WATCHABLE!

The "live streaming" we have available is The Blair Witch Project without monsters. I get seasick trying to watch. The Vibram Open, which Mr Dodge is associated with is a prime example. Last year, I watched to see Sprague or Chase or other locals. No dice. It was unwatchable.

To properly broadcast disc golf, you need a setup like the networks use for ball golf. You need a minimum of 3 cameras (and cameramen) per hole. Then you need a couple of knowledgeable announcers (we have those), and a truckfull of technicians to cut from group to group, highlighting great shots and long putts. Like instant replay.

Now I realize that some garage video producer does not have 60 television quality video recorders lying around, and certainly does not have 60 skilled cameramen either. Or the command center to splice the whole event into somethin the American sports viewer will watch.

If I were in charge: I would try to get one of the majors (CBS/NBC/ABC) in conjunction with a ball golf tourney, to agree to leave their cameras set up for 2 more days, set up a safari course on the ball golf course and have the top pros play a tourney right there. This would be a Monday and a Tuesday. The major network would use the cameras, personnel, and command center already on site, along with a pair of experienced disc golf announcers to produce a real event. It would be watchable and the only way I see to get what is necessary to satisfy a consumer of sports in USA.

Once you have a disc golf tourney filmed like a real sports event, it can be test marketed to see how much appetite there is out there for televised disc golf.

I have close to a dozen disc golf DVDs. Throw a "Super Bowl" type party with one of those videos as the main entertainment. People will be in the snack area way more than on the couch watching.
User avatar
tufluk
 
Posts: 994
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:08 am
Location: Moline,IL

Postby Like_Water » Thu Oct 25, 2012 5:19 pm

I don't see competitive disc golf at the top level going anywhere anytime soon.

People don't get in to this game to become great at it, they do it because it's easy to start and cheap to play. Who wants to watch a sport they can go out and play? I know I watch sports I have no interest in doing like Football and MMA. snowboarding? Ultimate? Bags? Darts? Meh, I'd rather go do it.

This game has and is struggling for an identity. The people pushing want it to be something it might not be. I see more and more this is just a fun recreational activity that most people love but don't necessarily want to work at or be consumed by. Nothing wrong with that, but we need to get real about what we are and quit chasing what we are not.
If it kills, I got news, it ain't a side effect
User avatar
Like_Water
 
Posts: 5849
Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2006 8:16 am
Location: Milky Way

Postby Chase20460 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 7:06 pm

I think it would be 10x better if we used Bullseye baskets. Seriously. Make a 25 ft worth something. Less off the tee and fairway aces, nothing promised for anyone outside of 40-50ft, even the best. The big issue between golf and disc golf is a 10ft putt in ball golf can have all the drama in the world. A 20ft putt in disc golf is boring, especially on tv.

It also would put emphasis on something anyone can be good at with practice before the courses get even longer, which is just turning off more players.

Putting bad hurts your round with the baskets we have now, imagine how bad it would be on 18 of those bastards. I wish I had 18 of them for Matzen this weekend, it would be ufcking epic.
http://www.ironliondgs.com
"I dont come to bow, I come to blow"- Bob Marley

"Im in the Gooooooo!" - Francine Smith
User avatar
Chase20460
 
Posts: 5203
Joined: Sat Aug 19, 2006 9:51 pm
Location: 2630 16th St. Moline IL

Postby Grimm » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:27 pm

Chase20460 wrote:( though Im sure a major sponsor non disc golf related would be lost in the whole rating thing. )


I don't think they would be; if they were interested. They have enough people working for them that could figure it out and explain it easily.
50 lashes for drinking the groups whiskey isn't steep.
Grimm
 
Posts: 1299
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:02 pm
Location: Cedar Rapids

Postby Grimm » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:00 pm

Like_Water wrote:snowboarding? Ultimate? Bags? Darts? Meh, I'd rather go do it.
This game has and is struggling for an identity.

Besides bags and ultimate. I don't really want to look up the numbers but pro snowboarders I know may millions. Darts, I'm not to sure of but I think they make quite a bit too. Both are on ESPN.

ESPNU - disc golf college championships or an alternate. I get 8 ESPN channels not including the news one. It's on TV and watchable people will watch. If you air it they will watch.
50 lashes for drinking the groups whiskey isn't steep.
Grimm
 
Posts: 1299
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 9:02 pm
Location: Cedar Rapids

Postby Steady 26542 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 9:23 pm

Chase20460 wrote:I think it would be 10x better if we used Bullseye baskets. Seriously. Make a 25 ft worth something. The big issue between golf and disc golf is a 10ft putt in ball golf can have all the drama in the world. A 20ft putt in disc golf is boring, especially on tv.

I agree with this completely. Putting is way too easy for the top players. I'd love to play a course that used only Bullseye's.
Team Iron Lion
Team MILLENNIUM
Team Gorilla Boy
Image
"Frisbees are a hobby; disc golf is a sport."
User avatar
Steady 26542
 
Posts: 552
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 9:24 am
Location: Davenport, IA

Postby grodney » Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:48 am

Steady 26542 wrote:I'd love to play a course that used only Bullseye's.


On some baskets, I think you could zip-tie the ring and outer chains to the upper assembly, while leaving the inner chains as-is. That would be a quick and easy test.
User avatar
grodney
 
Posts: 2298
Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:08 am

Postby lennythrowsdiscraft » Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:51 am

Steady 26542 wrote:
Chase20460 wrote:I think it would be 10x better if we used Bullseye baskets. Seriously. Make a 25 ft worth something. The big issue between golf and disc golf is a 10ft putt in ball golf can have all the drama in the world. A 20ft putt in disc golf is boring, especially on tv.

I agree with this completely. Putting is way too easy for the top players. I'd love to play a course that used only Bullseye's.


True statement.
lennythrowsdiscraft
 
Posts: 346
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:45 pm

Postby frogawitdafizzle » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:39 am

To grow the sport you need to get discs in more peoples hands not make sure touring pros can survive.
User avatar
frogawitdafizzle
 
Posts: 1513
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: the lily pad at the pond

Postby frogawitdafizzle » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:39 am

To grow the sport you need to get discs in more peoples hands not make sure touring pros can survive.
User avatar
frogawitdafizzle
 
Posts: 1513
Joined: Thu Aug 31, 2006 3:53 pm
Location: the lily pad at the pond

Postby Detra319 » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:04 am

frogawitdafizzle wrote:To grow the sport you need to get discs in more peoples hands not make sure touring pros can survive.


I think he is talking more about growing the sport for the pros. The regular peeps are coming already, in droves, for exactly the reasons that Tanner said.
The finial... Even with no clouds!
Detra319
 
Posts: 1258
Joined: Fri Jun 20, 2008 11:51 am

Next

Return to Stuff

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests