By Josh Woods ~
I have a confession. It’s terrible. I’m not kidding. It’s really bad. But here goes: At times, I’m a lazy, uninformed voter.
For one reason or another, I almost always make it to the voting booth, even for most local elections. But I rarely feel optimally educated on the candidates before casting my votes. Yep, I’m that annoying guy who’s holding up the voting line, because he’s doing last-minute research on his cell phone.
But, with the 2018 PDGA board elections coming this July, I thought I’d part ways with habit and start my research early.
This year there are six candidates vying for three at-large positions on the PDGA board. They include Robert Decker, Scot Estep, Trevor Harbolt, Justin Menickelli, Mike Sullivan, and Danny Voss. A surprisingly rich supply of information about the candidates can be found here. Background information, credentials, disc golf experience, thoughtful ideas for growing the sport, video presentations, the works.
Each of these candidates deserves applause for throwing their hats in the ring. Their willingness to serve in this difficult, unpaid position is not only what makes disc golf great, it’s what makes the world a better place.
Although I won’t be endorsing candidates, I wanted to share the 31 most interesting things I learned about them. The list below is based on a content analysis of the six candidates’ written statements on the PDGA website.
1) Their day jobs are diverse: Accountant, veterinarian, restaurant-managing pro disc golfer, college professor, lawyer, and marketing director.
2) Two candidates have military experience.
3) Two candidates have conducted and published scientific research.
4) Two candidates have professional grant writing experience.
5) One candidate has published a book about disc golf.
6) The youngest candidate is 30.
7) The oldest candidate is 64.
8) The mean age is 44.5.
9) All the candidates are men.
10) All of them appear to be white.
11) Their PDGA ratings range from 797 to 960.
12) Two candidates are from Texas.
13) All the candidates offered ideas for growing the sport.
14) Boosting support for local disc golf clubs was the most popular grow-the-sport idea (five out of six mentioned it).
15) Four candidates emphasized the need to encourage more women and girls to play disc golf.
16) The youth-based approach to growth received three votes.
17) Two candidates said that media coverage is key to growing the sport.
18) Only one candidate advocated for promoting the sport among people of color.
19) Two candidates mentioned the word “sustainability,” but no one addressed disc golf’s negative effects on the natural environment, and only one candidate stressed the importance of safety to growing the sport.
20) Three candidates explicitly noted their support for both amateur and professional disc golfers.
21) One candidate mentioned “social media,” but no one talked about how it is affecting the sport’s growth.
22) All six candidates referred to disc golf as a sport.
23) Two candidates thought about disc golf from a global perspective.
24) One mentioned the need for greater transparency in the PDGA.
25) None of them referred to disc golf as a social movement.
26) No one discussed the need for lobbying efforts to protect disc golf courses from outside threats.
27) Not a single candidate used the F-word (Frisbee).
28) One candidate predicted that the latest new PDGA number will hit 200,000 by 2023.
29) Another candidate believes that less than 10 percent of disc golfers are PDGA members (To put this estimate in perspective, consider this: if 10 percent of disc golfers are PDGA members, the world population stands at 451,737; if 5 percent are members, that number increases to 862,407; if 1 percent are members, there are 4,147,767 disc golfers worldwide. The problem is, no one knows the percentage of PDGA members among players).
30) All the candidates are highly qualified leaders in the disc golf community whose organizational skills are matched only by their passion for the sport.
31) Unfortunately, voter turnout will probably be low. Last year, the PDGA sent out 34,267 ballots, but only 5,244 members voted—about 15 percent.
I have one more confession to make: Despite doing the research, I’m still undecided. I know. I’m not to be trusted. In the current political climate, undecided voters are suspicious. Not taking a stand in the era of death-match politics and polarization is like not caring whether it rains during your round.
It’s like stepping up to the first tee pad and out pops a magical forest elf who asks: “Where would you like your disc to land? A) Close to the basket, or B) Way over there in a ginormous brier bush that is covered in poison ivy, wasp nests and gonorrhea?”
I suppose I’m the guy who asks the elf, “What do you mean by ‘close’? Like, a five-footer?”
It might take me a while, but eventually I’ll get off the fence and post my vote. I hope you do too.
PDGA members can register their votes throughout the month of July. Watch for the PDGA’s email notification, learn more about voting procedures here, check out the candidates here, share this article with friends, and if you’d like to help me off the fence, please comment below.
Parked is underwritten in part by a grant from the Professional Disc Golf Association.
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