Hey folks I’m here with another opinion piece so you’re more than welcome to disagree with me.
It’s time for the “Feature Card” to feature someone other than the usual suspects.
That means that while I enjoy watching Paige, Paul, Ricky, Eagle, Simon, Calvin, KJ, James Conrad, and Ulli. I don’t think they belong on the feature card every time.
Each of these tournaments have 3-4 rounds and the first round is always a feature card, then after that they film lead and chase cards. The players filmed on Lead and Chase card deserve to be there because they earned a top 4 score for the tournament. I think we’re all in agreement that you want to see the best disc golf being played, so put them on YouTube.
Here’s some 2020 feature cards
I made this table of the feature cards that we got to see in 2020. The DGPT and Jomez filmed MPO and that doubled the number of feature cards in MPO. There were 48 possible players who could have had a spot on an MPO feature card and 24 spots for FPO players. The MPO had 25 different players in their feature cards, FPO had 13 different players. We got 23 repeats in MPO and 11 repeats in FPO.
Something you’ll notice is that Paul McBeth and Paige Pierce both were on a feature card for each event.
Think of all the players who didn’t get to play on the feature card.
Eric Oakley, Andrew Presnell, Michael Johansen, Nathan Queen, Anthony Barela, Philo Braithwaite, 2018 World Champion Gregg Barsby, Nate Perkins, Andrew Marwede, Scott Withers, 2008 World Champion Dave Feldberg, Andrew Fish, Thomas Gilbert, Kyle Klein, Callie McMorran, 2018 World Champion Paige Shue, Jennifer Allen, Holly Finley… The list goes on.
Why do I think that the feature card needs new blood?
There’s a definite advantage to playing on the feature card for focus, the players who get on are already selling tons of signature discs, and I’d like to see a little more variety of shots.
Let’s start with the advantage claim. The DGPT admits that players who play on the feature card tend to score better than others. They get the better tee time because filming requires a slower round so they schedule them last. Generally that means afternoon time and it’s better weather than the morning groups contend with.
Here’s the other advantage part, they get to practice being on camera! I’ve played 3 rounds on camera, two filmed on our SDG YouTube page here and one hole in Champs vs Chumps. My drive was fine, but then I walked up to do the upshot and someone in the crowd joked about how thousands of people were going to see this footage to his friend (It’s at 154,000 views now). In that moment I went from being a happy go lucky guy who can play disc golf to a nervous wreck. I hit a tree not even close to the basket. At that moment I let the pressure get to me.
This is a chance for players who need a little time in front of a camera to get seasoned. I’m a fan of Anthony Barela, I think he’s going to be a superstar in a couple of years. When he was on the lead card at USDGC and at the World Championships he had some tough rounds. I’m not blaming it on the camera, but more time in front of the camera would help calm nerves.
My second claim is that the players on this list are already selling the most discs. The players I mentioned above have their discs sell out almost as soon as they drop. Not just the Discmania players whose signature discs are fetching 2-3 times their MSRP online. The Ricky Pigs are gone, the Conrad Aviars, but how about the Alex Russell Champion Boss? He proved himself this year in the USDGC. Doesn’t he deserve a shot at being on a feature card, with his 3 in a row top 25 finishes at DGPT events? The players at the top of the pile are selling thousands of signature discs and getting paid. Let’s give a little screen time to the other players with signature discs who would love a chance to show them off and maybe increase their sales.
Now let’s talk about the variety of shots. What I mean here is not just add lefties, even though they make up 10% of the population and should include at least one every other feature card to be equitable. I want to see how players who don’t throw 500 feet do on a course. Not everyone can throw over the tree that the course designer put in to block such a shot. Some players will throw rollers, others may take a more two shot approach. I want to see more variety in the shot selections than the top 10 players all doing the same shot as each other for four rounds.
It’s a tricky subject because companies like Jomez Productions and CCDG pay for the rights to film. They want whoever is going to get them the most views on a video. Then they can turn that into higher ad revenue and more views means people will buy more merchandise and become patreons for them.
But these filming companies don’t always have a say in who gets in. If a tournament is sponsored by Discraft, that’s when you’re going to see more Discraft sponsored players on the feature card. If it’s sponsored by another company it’s the same thing. It’s often left up to the tournament director to decide who goes on a feature card.
Companies want you to see their player play well and for you to buy the discs that they throw. I think it’s a perfectly honest exchange. If I’m on the fence about buying a Zone and I see that Paul McBeth keeps parking his upshots with one I’m more likely to buy it. I get to watch disc golf, they get advertising, the pro gets paid if they perform. I think it’s a win-win for everyone involved. So I want to see different players with different discs.
So what’s my solution?
That’s the thing, I don’t have a perfect one. I know that Paige is dominating the FPO scene right now, and if Paul shot -18 not on camera there would be angry reddit posts for a month. But I want to see other players too. The DGPT discussed points, world rankings, and other ways to combat this bias but I’m not sure they ever settled on one.
I know some events have had a vote-in process where you can like/comment/share pictures on social media, but when the person with the biggest social media following shares it they get more votes. It’s like voting for high school superlatives all over again.
My solution is to limit the number of feature cards you can be on in a given year. Make it no more than half. Players who are already at the top are going to be on lead cards anyway.
Show me some young players, the amateurs who won the weekend before, show me the local 1000 rated MPO player who is going to be cheered by the local gallery, show me an older legend of the game, I’m already going to see the top players play this course 3 times anway why make it 4?
So let me know if you agree. Maybe I’m totally wrong and people really want to see the same top 10 players in the world every single round. Is there any player you’d really like to see more of?
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397
Comments will be approved before showing up.
I’m a sports management student at USM and for the most part I don’t like pay-to-play sports. I’d argue that they’re detrimental to the growth of the sport, target rich people, and ruin the fun nature of sports.
But disc golf is different.