The Cultures, Economies and Politics of Emerging Sports
Josh is an associate professor of sociology at West Virginia University who plays disc golf and writes about it. He has two goals for Parked: convince the disc golf community that social scientific research can benefit the sport, and convince the academic community that disc golf is worth studying.
Part of the joy of disc golf comes from the fear of trying it. Leaving our comfort zones and walking onto the course can be daunting. “Can I do this? I got this. Nope, I can’t do this. What am I doing!?”
All of us, from top professionals to first-time players, deal with insecurities as we navigate a course. And when we overcome those fears and throw a great shot, it feels fantastic. A shared sense of vulnerability may also explain why camaraderie and friendships are so quick to grow on disc golf courses.
While mild unease may heighten the pleasure of a well-thrown shot and encourage group solidarity, too much fear can hamper performance and create conflicts in groups.
Last April, Parked published an article claiming that disc golf is pandemic proof and offered preliminary evidence. In this article, I’ll take a deeper dive into the 2020 data and show that participation in disc golf did expand, but certain areas of the sport have been impacted in other ways.
Twitter feuds are the roadside car wrecks of the internet. We all hate to see them, yet can’t look away. Most dust ups quickly deteriorate into blame games where the odds of learning something worthwhile are as likely as throwing an ace on a windy day.
But a recent confrontation on Twitter between Sascha Vogel and Brodie Smith offered a few educational takeaways.
In the far-reaching scope of social and philosophical theory, sport features rather infrequently—and rather unsurprisingly disc golf, given its relative infancy, features not at all—as a subject of concern for many notable philosophers, at least in their principle works.
That, however, does not mean philosophers have never engaged in a variety of ways.
During a recent online discussion about diversity and inclusion in disc golf, someone asked me to explain “How disc golf isn’t inclusive.”
The intention in the question was to prove that disc golf is open and welcome to all who want to play and that excluding people, on purpose, because of their race, ethnicity, gender or other characteristics simply doesn’t happen.
Calculated discrimination exists (even if you haven’t seen it), and it is a problem, but not being inclusive is sometimes more subtle than being overtly exclusive. I did research to better understand it myself as the discussion on how women are treated in disc golf increased in recent weeks.
Here are a few examples of how disc golf isn’t inclusive of women and girls.
Jeremy Koling’s anti-racist gesture, four years in the making
By Josh Woods, PhD ~
The killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis during an arrest last May has expanded the number of athletes and sports organizations supporting social justice initiatives and embracing the Black Lives Matter movement.
In recent weeks, several NBA, WNBA and MLB teams cancelled games to protest racial injustice, NFL football players kneeled during the national anthem, and US Open Champion Naomi Osaka wore facemasks to honor black victims of racial injustice. In all corners of sport, from skateboarding and BMX freestyle to roller derby and ultimate, anti-racist athletes have been turning up the volume and pushing for change. Continue reading “Black Lives Matter T-Shirt Creates Buzz in Disc Golf Social Media”→
The long-term effect of Covid-19 on disc golf remains to be seen, but is expected to bring a significant increase in participation. As Americans seek opportunities for outdoor recreation that permit social distancing, interest in disc golf is likely to grow.
While increased participation in the sport is a good thing, the complex social dynamics resulting from Covid-19 may lead to restricted course access in urban areas, which may continue to entrench racial and ethnic disparities in the sport.
For three years, Dellwood Disc Golf has hosted Inparcerated, a disc golf tournament held at the Old Joliet Prison in Illinois. The idea was born when Mark Grabavoy heard about the prison opening to the public for tours and wondered if disc golf was an option. He pitched the idea to Dellwood and they were all in.
In summer 2016, I started a Twitter account, followed my favorite disc golfers and groups and sat on the edge of my seat waiting to be amused and enlightened.
Unfortunately, not much happened. Four years ago, disc golf Twitter was little more than a weigh station for disc advertisements, lackluster notes about personal accomplishments and links directing Twitter users to Instagram posts.