The disc golf community received lots of exciting news last December. Clearly, as I addressed in my earlier posts, the discopalypse and announcement of Prodigy Disc Golf stirred up tons of gossip. Dynamic Discs released its new line of discs. But the announcement that has the greatest potential to impact the sport went unnoticed in comparison. On December 21, PDGA Executive Director Brian Graham announced that the PDGA would be joining with two other sports organizations to create the Emerging Sports Network.
The purpose of the ESN, according to its website, http://www.emergingsports.info, is to recognize and celebrate the “most innovative, exciting, and competitive sporting endeavors available today. Though each of these sports might not have millions of fans and dollars to support their play, they do not lack the passion or the skills necessary to create great broadcasting.” The other two organizations pairing with the PDGA to make up the ESN are the Upstate Watercraft Promotions-International Jet Sports Boating Association (UWP-IJSBA) National Tour and the Extreme Volleyball Professionals (EVP) Tour. Before the PDGA became involved, the two sports had partnered together to form the Beach Sports Network, which has now evolved into the ESN.
As a partner for the ESN, the PDGA will produce four 30 minute video segments this year. The first of the four disc golf episodes will cover the Memorial Championship in Scottsdale and Fountain Hills, AZ at the beginning of March. Between the three sports, 20 episodes will be created, then distributed by Comcast or another sports network. These episodes have the potential to be picked up by networks all across the country and to be seen by 66 million households.
The group who owns the rights to the ESN website and who will provide key help in producing the first disc golf shows for television is the Terra Firma Media Group, who specializes in strategic communications and “helping your company reach its audience.” Terra Firma already has a big role in disc golf. They run DiscGolfPlanet.tv and their clients include the USDGC, the Japan Open, Innova, Red Bull, and Kimberly-Clark.
I expect that partnering with the UWP-IJSBA and EVP Tours will have several, large effects on disc golf in the next couple of years. The most direct effect will be that disc golf will be more well known, and therefore, more people will want to play. This could eventually lead to more course installations and cooperation from Parks and Rec-type groups.
Although I do not see this until next year or later, I believe that if the ESN is successful, the PDGA will collaborate with the UWP-IJSBA and EVP to organize a tour made up of mega-events where all three sports are represented. Graham said in his announcement on Disc Golf Talk Radio that he hoped to have one of these events in the future, but I expect that there will be several if the ESN is a successful alliance. The other two sports have already synced up the time and place of several of their major tour events for the 2013 season, and this trend could easily transfer to include disc golf events as well.
These large events would put disc golf in a new position. They will attract better bids from Convention and Visitors Bureaus, which would cut costs for tournament hosting. They will also make tournaments more appealing for sponsors that apply to all three sports–like Nike or Gatorade. We can also expect that the cities that will host these big events will be on beaches, so they can accommodate jet ski racing and beach volleyball. Cities like Kansas City, who hosted the 2009 Pro and Am World Championships and is home to the Kansas City Wide Open (a national tour event), will be less likely to host these giant events. Large cities in coastal states will have a higher chance of hosting disc golf’s biggest events.
For Brian Graham’s announcement: http://discgolftalkradio.com/2012/news-from-the-the-pdga/
For the full interview with Brian Graham: http://discgolftalkradio.com/2012/interview-with-pdga-executive-director-brian-graham/
How do you expect the ESN to impact disc golf? Tweet @doglegdiscgolf with the hashtag #EmergingSN to let us know!