PDGA True Amateurism Article
From the PDGA website:
Applause, cheers, boos, catcalls from the usual suspects, race to be the first person to post your "Don't confuse me with facts, my mind's made up," Opinions on Am vs Pro cash vs merch comments.
But before you do that, please set aside your heartfelt opinion for a few minutes and actually use the internet.
Google a few things:
Amateurism in sports.
History of amateurism in Olympic Games.
History of amateurism in sports.
(this one in particular should be enlightening, especially in the context of most "Big money" sports early vehemence in promoting amateurism so as to exclude more competition in the pro divisions. Once you do some reading into the idea and aim of "True Amateurism you may have an entirely different opinion then you thought you had.. I know I did.)
History of professional sports, with particular attention to minor league baseball and farm league hockey.
Semi-pro and Pro-am sports.
World series of poker (for comparision of another game that has experienced massive growth in a short time through adapting a pro-am model in another mostly self funded format.)
Promotions in sports.
Sponsership in sports.
Demographics of PGA golf, PGA tour, PGA tour cards, PGA membership requirements.
(The PGA protects itself from wannabes so well that you can't even get a straight answer on costs and requirements to join on its own website.)
Demographics of the PDGA, in particular:
Take particular note of the fact that out of 91 men and 16 women only 27 of them made even 10k last year, and whether or not you'd consider that, "Making a living."
Now think about Disc golf itself. Think about the last few tournaments you played who the Pro players were, how many of them were "Touring pros," or locals from league and semi locals who make a handful of tournaments every year and have lives and day jobs.
Were most of them 1000 rated players or even 970+ or were the ratings all over the place since anyone can be a "Pro" just by paying an extra $25 a year.
Now read the article again and think about it for a bit.
Now let's work on putting it all in context:
Whether or not you agree on the idea for worlds itself let's take a look at America and how often we have the "Slippery slope" cliche tossed around. Every time a decision is made that effects a group people always say, "It's a slippery slope," Yet once a ball gets rolling it's pretty much unstoppable no matter how much people argue about it. In politics there's often no opposing view to even vote for anymore, even if half the people worried about the consequences down the road even got off their asses and tried to do something about it.
We went from talking about how people shouldn't do unhealthy things because it effects other people too to banning soft drinks larget then 16 ounces in New York City to now the FDA talking about restrictions on energy drinks because they're "Dangerous," and the USDA actively trying to influence sugar prices so less poor people will be able to afford to eat it. Employees up in arms because now companies are forcing them to provide details on everything from medical family histories to health habits and blood sugar counts, while everyone said "Oh, they won't carry it that far." The state of New York alone passed over 16,000 new laws last year, because the ruling body is obviously so much better equipped to make these decisions for us we cannot be possibly be trusted to make them on our own. Life would be terrible without so many laws. Or so the argument goes. Everything is about ideals and not reality, and done in the name of "The public good."
A few weeks ago this whole debate got started up again over Dynamics decision on how to run Am worlds this year and we've already gone from that to a statement by the PDGA on how this is the new model for the future, all by unanimous decision by the PDGA board, with, as far as I can tell, no input from the membership itself. Which is alot like how the whole cash-vs-merch system got started in the first place. That system worked, disc golf needed it to expand in the early days, but the the ideal of "True Amateurism" was declining even back when the PDGA was promoting it as the reason for the system. It sounded good,it sounded professional, most people knew nothing more then the term itself, and most people would rather just be out playing instead of actually being involved. Just like the smoking ban at majors sounded good, it looks "Professional" and was heavily politically correct. The fact that the PDGA used it as a blanket to encompass E cigs and chewing tobacco even though those have nothing to do with anyone elses health or well being on the course shows clearly that it was nothing but that, a PC nanny state image decision that had nothing to do with reality. All of those products are perfectly legal, E cigs don't even contain tobacco (or even nicotene in some) and chewing tobacco has no secondhand smoke issues so do not effect anyone else but the individual. At least they took a vote on it, although I have no idea if all of those products were covered in the voting survey.
Today it's worlds, what's tomorrow, all NT's? All A tiers? All tournaments period? (Trophy only, not smoking, was merely using the smoking policy as an example.)
True amateurism is an ideal, one that is pretty much past its time in the 21st century, it looks great on paper and sounds great talking about it, but an ideal nonetheless. True Amateurism also cannot exist without "True professionalism." Take a close look at the earnings of the pro tour and pro player demographics.
Pro-Am is the reality in many sports today and should be the model disc golf should be using, one that is based in facts and money and the real world of sponsership and getting players to join tournaments. It's also the current format for most of today's DG leagues, including PDGA sanctioned ones.
The fact that the board decision was unanimous is discouraging, it shows the PDGA board is apparantly mired down in too much idealism and image and not enough reality. Disc Golf continues to expand despite that principle, not because of it. Unlike American politics disc golf is not so mired in bureaucracy yet that nothing can be done about it though, we're still a small enough body that members can educate themselves and our board members, and large enough to find others to vote for if they can't be persueded to change their opinion. Though like American politics nothing will change unless people care and are willing to face facts and voice them instead of opinions.
If all that fails (like politics today) another option is to run unsanctioned "cash only" tournaments for all divisions. People will come, just like they do for league.. which are essentially the exact same thing on a local weekly scale. There's one reason there are alot more league players then PDGA players.
A last example in closing:
Ideal: Disc Golf should be on TV, there should be millions of dollars in sponserships and networks should be fighting over covering the memorial.
Of course no one's going to disagree with that, everyone's been dreaming about it since the first worlds.
Fact: Watching the memorial live coverage checking several times throughout the most "Live viewers" I saw at any one time was 112.
Dreams are exciting, reality is what it is.
Final Disclaimer: This is not about having an issue with how Dynamic Discs decided to run Am Worlds, it's an issue about the PDGA endorsing it as THE model for the future. And how far that will extend down the line given time.
Flaming begins now, I guess I asked for it by posting in the first place.
I'm sure the first couple pages of replies will be typical and mostly from the people I've seen argue about it all before. It's ok, I've been working on thicker skin.
cliff note version?
i couldnt read the whole thing, sorry.
I like it for the big tourneys, I imagine paying out merch to that many players is a huge pain. I have to imagine that most people playing Worlds also have plenty of plastic already.
However, I think lots of clubs and tourney promoters make most of their $$ off of merch, so I don't think that making this a model for all tourneys is a good idea.
I only read the PDGA article and the OP, not all of the related references.
I hope it wasn't just because of that one word, but if it was I understand. I always skip to the next post when I see blatant abuse of there their and they're.
I'll hang my head in shame now. And embarrassment.
Just to give a clearer idea of where I actually stand it's more like:
The concept of amateurism in today's sports, much less Disc Golf in general is an over used, timeworn, meaningless word. If it weren't you'd have players walking up to total strangers all the time asking if they could play a round together just for the competition.
Groups of friends might go out together all the time, people might play PDGA leagues where there are only $2-3 on the line, but challenging strangers for it's own sake just doesn't happen much. Closest thing I can even think of is going to a bar and putting quarters down on a pool table and having to play the person holding the table first.. Even then, you're playing for the table so it still doesn't quite compare exactly.
You might go ask someone you've never met before if you can play a round with them but it's usually not to compete with them it's to find your way around a course you've never played before or you were out by yourself and saw someone else by themselves and DG is a friendly sport.
The idea of trophy only does have a place in DG, but at the far ends of the spectrum and not in the middle, and intermediate, advanced, and most open players all fall into one large middle.
Trophy only should be for novice divisions and invitationals, for novices it could make the entry fees dirt cheap to encourage the experience, it's also a great place for people to get a start. Even when it's run on the same day on the same course it should really be considered an entirely separate event within itself. (All divisions pretty much are anyways except cases where am money is "donated" to the open purse, which is at the TD's discretion; more on plastic payouts below.) Added cash from sponsors can go to the top division for promotion and marketing but even fundraiser event cash should be split among separate divisions.. I.E. you play a fundraiser tourney as an am your money should go to the am purse... All of the mechanisms for this are already in place in rec/intermediate/advanced, you must play up a division if your rating demands it, however the pro division is not protected except at a few select tournaments, more on that too below.
For something like AM worlds a trophy could definitely mean more then cash/prizes.. If Am Worlds were truly protected and you had to qualify to play. With no exceptions. It means everyone there deserved to be there, Then again, if you take DG for what it really is and changed the system Am worlds would really be just "Somewhat Lower Rated Pro Worlds," Both would be fully protected since both would be major sponsored events and both would just play for cash/trophies within their own divisions.
Plastic payouts and pro purses:
I don't really have any issue with the payout system as it's been done in the past, it's worked well at growing disc golf from many directions. I've said in a couple other posts I do think it might be getting a little out of date with the times and that the system could use some refocusing, once again to the extreme ends of the disc golf spectrum. TD's no longer have to rely on plastic wholesale/retail differences to be compensated for tournaments or donate the proceeds to the pro purse if they don't wish to be compensated. Plastic dealers, even the ones working out of the trunks of their cars no longer need to be majorly subsidized by am payout purses, they have a large enough market just to sell at tournaments and work out deals with TDs for player pack discs. Novice divisions still profit from plastic payouts / player's packs in advertising manufacturers and retailers though, more so then more experienced players often unable to find plastic they want/need in a tournament's disc stock.
Local pro purses no longer need to be subsidized at all levels, certainly not to encourage growth in the open division especially B and C tier events. Today's Am is not going to go pro just because there's added cash in the purse either. He won't go until he thinks he has a fair shot at "Making the cut." There's enough people now playing disc golf and enough larger events that the cream will eventually rise to the top through time and devotion without giving the (local better player) you play league every week with an extra 50 bucks at the three local tournaments a year he plays.
The money could be much better spent growing the top tier taking a flat fee from every player at a PDGA event and putting it towards more Vibram/USDGC type events so the players who are really out there devoting their lives to disc golf can actually make enough to be self supporting.
Take $5 from every players entry fee or even a sliding scale by division going UP as your division goes up as an added incentive, put it into a fund and do it for a few years before you start the event series and you could truly have some massive prize purses for a genuine "Pro invitational tour."
"Now with sponsorship spelled correctly since 6:27 pm."
I can also see:
PDGA Am will be all the Rec and Novice players. PDGA Pro will be all the local top current ADV and Pros. While the group between the middle won't be happy about either situation. Almost everyone I know who plays ADV or upper INT wants to be able to play for cash not trophies. We all want to say we are a pro. Lots of us are not at that level yet. But if you turn trophy only on us, we will loose interest. And probably only a handful will buckle down and improve their game so they can move up.
Like usual the governing body is out of touch with its constituents. But that has to do with the poor voting record, and peoples stupidity when it comes to familiarity over logical.
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