For all its recent growth, disc golf is still a relatively small community with plenty of room for newcomers. This has led to a burgeoning discussion about growth, whether it’s always good, and how changes will affect current players. What is often lost in the discussion is not the number of people and corporations coming into disc golf, but the specifics of who and what they are. In other words: a discussion of quality rather than quantity.
Disc golf is young and can still broadly shape its public perception. For all the noise about the broadcast on ESPN2 and the “Holy Shot” in the disc golf world, we remain a mystery to the vast majority of sports fans around the world. The question that underlies every r/discgolf and Ultiworld and Twitter discussion of #growthesport is: How would we like to be perceived by the rest of the world?
In his farming handbook, Wendell Berry quips:
“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”
It is a quote I cannot help but think of every time a Barstool Sports entity pushes disc golf content with the help of some of disc golf’s biggest names. With the (unsurprising) news today broken by Business Insider that Barstool founder and general piece of shit, Dave Portnoy has been accused of violent sexual misconduct by multiple women, we must ask ourselves, is this who we want to invite into our house with open arms?
Barstool Sports is at best, clutter allowed into the house of disc golf. At worst, an active and unstable fire hazard. And if our house was to burn down because of it, I think we would deserve it. There is still room in young sports like ours for morality to assume an importance it does not hold in others, and we should not take that chance lightly.
ABRUPT METAPHOR SHIFT INCOMING
There is another Wendell Berry quote that gives me hope for the future of our wonderful sport:
“Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.”
There is still much downstream for disc golf, generations of players who are not even born, and we would do well to be good stewards of the game by not deliberately allowing the stream to be polluted in our own time so that they must tackle it in the future.