Every kid has at least one completely ridiculous belief that causes embarrassment later in life. Mine was the Smurfs. For a time, I was sure they were real. One day I even went looking for them in a forest near my house.
As a kid, I loved NFL football. The walls of my childhood room were plastered with Sports Illustrated photos of New York Giants. Before falling asleep each night, I gazed at the shadowy outlines of Phil Simms, Joe Morris and Lawrence Taylor. On Sundays, I attached myself to the TV set, full of awe and expectation, waiting for the next touchdown or sack.
Americans love to compete. And once we’re done competing, we like telling people about it. Sports stats, ranking systems and top ten lists are the elementary particles of American culture. Disc golfers may be more laid back than most Americans, but we’re really good at keeping track of who’s hot and who’s not.
It’s spring 1990. Mike Plansky is standing in a municipal park near Palo Alto, California, crouched like the Karate Kid with a footbag resting on the back of his neck. With an undulating motion, he rolls the multi-paneled pigskin up his spine and over his head. Dropping on gravity’s rainbow, the footbag suddenly stalls, impossibly, on the toe of Mike’s black and white Vans. Then, with a fluid jerk of his foot, he passes the footbag to his friend. Continue reading “Disc golf and the construction of happiness”→
Drew Barrymore directed and starred in one of my favorite movies. Whip It, released in 2009, tells the story of a misfit teen from Texas who finds refuge from the doldrums of small-town life by joining a women’s roller derby team called the Hurl Scouts.
In one scene, the Hurl Scouts come together after a bout. Despite losing the hard-fought contest, the women are all smiles and fist pumps and laughter.
Women represent an underserved group in the disc golfer population. Per the PDGA, between 1999 and 2015, the share of women among PDGA members has stayed within a range of 6.9 percent to 7.7 percent. A few surveys drawn from PDGA-centric populations have reported similar or lower estimates of the number of women who play disc golf. Continue reading “Women, Men and Disc Golf: An interview with Valarie Jenkins”→
In the early 1990s, Jane Gottesman worked as a staff writer covering sports for the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time, she was the only woman in the country working in the sports department of a big-city newspaper (1). News coverage of female athletes was scarce. Gottesman kept a running tally of the number of photographs of women who graced the sports page. The results were dismal. Continue reading “An interesting and important disc golfer you should know, but probably don’t”→