A woman lands the cover in back-to-back issues.
By Josh Woods ~
Here’s an earth-shaker for you: When people go to restaurants, they order food from a menu.
A few picky eaters may request off-menu items, but most people stick to the script. According to researcher Brian Wansink, customers are especially likely to choose items that are next to pictures, bolded or placed in boxes.
These are not controversial claims, are they?
Time after time, people sit down in restaurants and select food items from the options given them, and they’re prone to choose options that stick out, that sparkle, that take center stage.
The same logic can be applied to the choice of playing sports. Ample evidence shows that men are more likely to play sports than women. A proper explanation of this tendency is surely complex and multifaceted.
But isn’t part of the explanation as simple as ordering food from a menu? Wouldn’t women choose to play sports more often if the option was more visible, like the bolded items on a menu?
If we accept the self-evident logic behind food choices at restaurants, we should also acknowledge the theory that men are more likely to participate in sports partly because they are more likely to appear in sports media.
People need to “see it to be it,” as the saying goes. And there’s no question that people see more men than women in the pages and screens of sports media.
If growing disc golf is a good idea, for whatever reason—selling more equipment, filling tournaments, making the world a better place—then focusing media attention on female disc golfers is a wise choice.
For this reason, I was happy to see that DiscGolfer Magazine recently made history with the cover photo of its latest edition. The Finnish Phenom Eveliina Salonen graces the cover of the Spring 2019 issue, and World Champion Paige Bjerkaas took center stage on the previous one (Winter 2019). Based on the 33 issues available in the DiscGolfer archive, this was the first time a woman was featured alone on the cover in back-to-back issues.
Of course, this is not to say that gender equity in disc golf media has suddenly arrived. Among the 33 issues, only five of them featured a female disc golfer alone and an additional six included both a man and a woman on the cover. In short, the inclusion rate for female players is 33 percent. For advocates of gender equity, these numbers suggest that more can be done to increase the visibility of women in the sport.
Still, these numbers should be placed in context. Compared to other sports media, DiscGolfer is ahead of the Hyzer. Consider, for instance, the popular stick-and-ball publication Golf.
In its last 33 issues, only one woman was featured on the cover. Lexi Thompson, the youngest golfer ever to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open, made the cover twice.
In comparison, nine professional female disc golfers have landed the cover of DiscGolfer over the last 33 issues, including Paige Pierce (three times), Sarah Hokom, Catrina Allen, Jessica Weese, Hannah Leatherman, Valarie Jenkins, Elaine King, Paige Bjerkaas and Eveliina Salonen. DiscGolfer’s inclusion rate of women (33 percent) is more than five times greater than that of Golf (6 percent).
What does the future hold for women’s disc golf?
Considering the history of sports, it’s neither easy nor shrewd to be an optimist. But then, pessimism just isn’t much fun. As a compromise, I will end on an ambivalent note and recount the favorite saying of an old friend: “The future is brilliant, but not hopeless.”
Parked is underwritten in part by a grant from the Professional Disc Golf Association.