It’s no wonder with all the studies coming out about the dangers of contact sports like hockey and football that parents are looking for new sports for their kids to be a part of. Growing up, many kids join a sports team either through school or an outside organization. Not only does it give them an activity to do with their friends, it teaches them many valuable lessons they can take with them through their whole lives. Baseball, America’s pastime, while still very popular requires too many people that a small school may not be able to put together. Hockey and football teach kids the importance of working as a team, but injuries have become almost accepted as a sacrifice for playing the sport. In recent years we’ve seen many sports gain traction in the younger population that give kids a place where they can flex their competitive muscles and grow mentally and physically. Tennis and volleyball were not long ago just recreational activities that now high school students are getting full ride scholarships to a university to gain an education while playing a sport they love. One sport has been left behind for many of it’s 50 years, but has recently taken charge as one of the fastest growing sports in the world. That sport is disc golf.
Gone are the days where “disc golfer” was just a term used to described someone who wore tie die, drove a Volkswagen van, and probably needed a shower. There are people of all ages and backgrounds who are banging chains, and with over 100,000 registered members in the Professional Disc Golf Association, it’s hard to come across anyone who hasn’t at least heard of disc golf. At your local park, you can see a ten year old boy with his dad and grandpa walking from basket to basket to enjoy a couple hours of bonding time as a family. All for the cost of a couple bucks for their first discs. While you’re starting to see disc golf clubs popping up at middle schools and high schools, disc golf has still got a few years before it becomes a nationwide school sport. However with all that the sport has to offer, it’s only a matter of time before state universities come scouting at your kid’s school to see how far they can throw.
So what makes disc golf such a great sport for kids?
1) Team Building
Disc golf is mostly played as an individual sport. There are variations that can be played where two people can play “doubles” and the team takes the best of the two shots. However each player is responsible for their own shots. There aren’t ten other people that will help you get the disc to the basket. This creates an interesting team dynamic that makes competition a very positive experience. In a traditional team sport it’s US against THEM. WE will beat THEM if THEY play poorly giving US a better chance to score. Sure, every disc golfer still wants to win, but they are only in control of their own game. What players A and B shoot has zero effect on player C’s game. Each player can only play to the best of their ability. Having such a great community, disc golfers see each other week in and week out in practice and casual rounds. They share ideas and help each other with their shots even when they’ll be competitors the following day. Your disc golf game allows you to grow as an individual and this helps people bond together as they are all after the same goal of playing to the best of their ability. You would never want to work somewhere that has two departments fighting each other day after day. You want it to be a place where everyone is working to be their best, and helping each other grow to do so. Disc golf is no different.
2) Cost to Play
The barrier of entry to play a round of disc golf comes down to shelling out ten bucks for your first disc and downloading the Udisc app to find the closest free to play course. An entire family can play all summer (or winter) long for the one time cost of going out to eat. Spending a lot of time in the urban setting, we at Disc Downtown see many kids and families in financially tough situations. Not everybody can afford $300 for their kids to get pads and uniforms only to outgrow them and need to purchase more within just a year or two. Many kids start playing because their mom or dad took them out for the first time and they got hooked. Or you could be like the 7 year old holder of over 50 world records Kaiden Bell and just have baskets set up all over your house! Having a sport that is easily accessible for the whole family gives everyone, not just the gifted, a chance to enjoy it.
3) It Teaches You Respect
Few sports demand integrity like the sport of disc golf. Unlike many others, there are typically few to no officials on the course calling rules and fouls ensuring fair play, even at national level events. A standard group of four or five will leave tournament central at the beginning of the day and may not see an official for the entire four hours before their round is over. The play of the game and enforcement of rules falls entirely on the players whom are competing with one another. This forces athletes to work together to ensure the game is played safely and within the rules set out. If a player makes a mistake, it must be called by a player on the same card and seconded by another who would have the most accurate perspective versus a distant observer. Anytime there is a discrepancy or question in the ruling or lie, players are encouraged to take a provisional shot. This allows them to take a shot from each agreed placement and the group would then approach a tournament official after the round to determine the correct ruling. Courtesy is even written into the rules of disc golf. Failure to follow these rules may result in penalties or disqualifications.
How do you get your schools and kids more involved? Maybe contact a local disc golf club to host a putting event during an assembly. Many schools have even installed miniature courses on school grounds to encourage kids to get out and play. As a parent, why not get a few discs and take your kids out as a family? We believe the more people we can get playing this sport, the more people will be able to reap the personal and emotional benefits we all have. This will create better communities, and more positive places to learn and grow.