Do Disc Golfers Lean Left on Environmental Issues?

By Josh Woods, PhD, Bill Newman and Vic Allen ~

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Photo Jesse Wright.

Environmentalists can be found in all major sports, but they seem especially common in outdoor activities that depend on a clean, sustainable environment.

For instance, as global warming has turned mountain snow to slush, snowboarding legends like Gretchen Bleiler and daredevil ice climbers like Will Gadd have been using their sport as a platform to raise awareness about climate change. With coral reefs declining and plastic waste amassing in the oceans, surfing gods like Kelly Slater are pitching in to clean things up. Continue reading “Do Disc Golfers Lean Left on Environmental Issues?”

The Biggest Environmental Worries in Disc Golf

By Josh Woods, PhD, and Bill Newman ~

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Henry David Thoreau wrote, “What’s the use of a disc golf course if you don’t have a decent planet to put it on?”

Okay, we may have tinkered with Mr. Thoreau’s quote, but surely his point holds up. Disc golf would not be much fun on a severely damaged planet. And you don’t need to be a famous naturalist to understand that the sport itself can harm the environment. Building disc golf courses often involves cutting down trees, disturbing animal habitats and attracting herds of players who trample the fields and sometimes leave their garbage behind. Continue reading “The Biggest Environmental Worries in Disc Golf”

Risk of Brain Injury from Disc Strikes Is “Negligible,” New Research Finds

By Josh Woods, PhD ~

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Photo Menickelli et al., 2019.

Life is inherently risky. And if you play sports, injury risk lurks around every corner. Even athletes of esports, who compete while sitting down, face significant health problems.

Though seen by some as a whimsical game, disc golf can be a menace to the flesh. Having dealt with several problems myself, I reviewed research on the prevalence of disc golf injuries in two previous posts in Parked—one with an early interview with Disc Golf Strong and the other on stretching. Simply throwing a disc repeatedly, sans ankle turns or catastrophic falls, can wreak havoc on the fibrous tissues that connect muscle to bone. Continue reading “Risk of Brain Injury from Disc Strikes Is “Negligible,” New Research Finds”

Disc Golf Is Winning Hearts and Minds, New Study Shows

By Josh Woods ~

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Compared to most issues in our fury-fueled political landscape, disc golf is a blissfully uncontroversial subject of public interest.

But, if you plumb the depths of local news coverage, you will find at least some controversy over the upsides and downsides of disc golf.

The debate, when there is one, can be summarized with the following questions:

  • Does the inclusion of a disc golf course in a public park harm the natural environment, or is disc golf an environmentally friendly alternative to other, more destructive recreational activities?
  • Does the sport introduce unreasonable physical risks to participants and bystanders, or benefit public health and wellbeing?
  • Do disc golf communities encourage public intoxication, criminal behavior and community conflict, or provide safe, family-friendly recreation that deters crime in public parks and inspires community engagement, volunteerism and charity?

Continue reading “Disc Golf Is Winning Hearts and Minds, New Study Shows”

The Disc Golf Revolution Will Not Be Televised (But It Will Be Fun)

New Study Examines the Moneyless Rise of Disc Golf

By Josh Woods ~

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Photo by Ajeet Mestry

Three years ago, I quietly jettisoned my sociological research agenda on terrorism and immigration and began thinking about the growth of disc golf and other emerging sports. The two-part question that has held my curiosity longest is this one:

Is the popularity of disc golf growing, and if so, why? Continue reading “The Disc Golf Revolution Will Not Be Televised (But It Will Be Fun)”

The Sociology of Disc Golf? Yep, that’s a Thing

Josh Woods ~

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I am terrible at cocktail parties. I rarely say the right thing when meeting new people.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not someone who looks down on small talk. I can chat about sports, the weather and Caribbean vacations all day long.

The problem is, when encountering strangers, the topics of careers and hobbies invariably arise.

“What keeps you busy?” Someone might ask.

For me, there’s really no way to answer this question truthfully without staring into a blank, confused face. Continue reading “The Sociology of Disc Golf? Yep, that’s a Thing”

Who Gets Hooked? The Demographics of Disc Golf Involvement

By Josh Woods ~

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One of my best friends almost died from a disc-golf addiction.

He and I had recently discovered disc golf and were still in the honeymoon stage. Some days we’d play three rounds in the high hills of West Virginia under the hot summer sun.

Old men trying to relive their childhoods rarely ends well. This was no exception. Continue reading “Who Gets Hooked? The Demographics of Disc Golf Involvement”

A Demographic Portrait of Disc Golf Land

Results from the 2017 Parked Facebook Study – Part 1.

By Josh Woods, PhD ~Cover art

In early 2017, we collected the first large-scale random sample of disc golfers and estimated the size and characteristics of the organized disc golfer population in the United States. The results discussed in this post will appear in the International Journal of Sport Communication early next year.

If you haven’t read my last two posts, consider taking a look at the theory behind this study and the method we used to explore it before plunging into the findings below. Continue reading “A Demographic Portrait of Disc Golf Land”

What We Know and Don’t Know about Disc Golf

A new method for studying the sport

By Josh Woods ~

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I’m not a fan of phrases like “close, but no cigar” and “close only counts in horseshoes.”

They make it sound like close is a bad thing. As if anything short of first place, anything other than perfection, anything besides certainty is a grave defeat.

Even Reese Bobby’s celebrated absurdity – “If you ain’t first, you’re last” – was debunked by Reese himself at the end of Talladega Nights.

Black-and-white thinking doesn’t work well as a sports mentality, and it’s even worse for science. Scientific research never leads us out of the grey, not entirely. At best, we merely increase our confidence in fundamentally questionable propositions. Continue reading “What We Know and Don’t Know about Disc Golf”

Why Do People Play Disc Golf?

A brief look into the psychology and sociology of disc golf.

By Josh Woods ~

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The other day my seven-year-old daughter asked me, “Why do people get married?”

I gazed into her curious brown eyes, knowing that my answer would not satisfy her. “Because they want to,” I said.

“Why do they want to?” She chirped, of course.

“Because it makes them happy,” I said.

“Why does it make them happy?”

I tried to explain that people get married for different reasons, that not everyone wants to, and that the reasons for getting married usually depend on where people live, when they live, and what the people around them think about marriage.

“I’m going to be a zombie bride for Halloween,” she said. And that was that. Continue reading “Why Do People Play Disc Golf?”