Freestyle Frisbee competitions rarely have a large audience and they usually consist of friends and family. Responses to our podcast interview with the Beast have left me wondering how people feel about that. This Poll asks a simple question: Are you satisfied with the number of audience members at Freestyle Frisbee Competitions?
Voting is anonymous. If you’d like to share why you voted the way you did, please leave a note in the comments.
It’s true, when people come as a visitor to a tournament, even if they take a disc and play that weekend, they usually don’t start playing right away. It’s like others said, you need to take time for them, also expressing that they are really welcome and give them a reliable option to come again and learn with experianced players.
But the size of audience is still very important for the growth and here is why:
Karlsruhe was mentioned as a place where many newcomers are born. Yes, they provide the option to come to a course and if anybody stopps and watches at a jam, they get inolved somehow immediately.
BUT: It took us years in Karlsruhe, already back in the days when I was still living there, to play shows, give workshops and promote the sport for free to publicize that this sport is existing, what it is about and that there is a way to easily participate. We offered a course like 6 or 7 years ago and almost nobody was interested. After many years of public relations and successfull tournaments the growth has just started a few years ago.
It is a long way but the resonance to teaching offers is directly connected to the publicity in the certain region. And this is why bigger audience is important to grow the sport.
Beside it pushes you to give everything in a routine and turns on the vibe. At some tournaments it’s already quite nice, usually when a freestyle event happens together with ultimate and the schedule allows them to watch us. For example Paganello, Spirit Camp, Sandslash. But also well organized and promoted tournaments like FPAW 2015.
Obviously not all jammers want that or care for it.
And for myself, I wouldn’t give away a style of play or a favoured judging category only to attract audience. I think we are a small community and we are also playing for exactly this community. And we can only play the way the way we like it to keep expressing freestyle with the necessary charisma. And if we can attract audience with it, perfect.
So do I want to change the tournaments game, where it is actually about figuring out who can do AI AND DIFF AND EX? No.
Would I change the game at a show where it is for spectators only? Absolutely!
We always took the competitions to the crowds, whether it was the Toronto Islands or Kitsilano Beach in Vancouver, there would always be big crowds with nothing to do just waiting for something to happen. The exception to this was the Santa Cruz Tournaments and the WFC where people would actually come to a stadium to see the event but in both of those events there would have to be a tremendous amount of advance promotion and publicity. If you’re not ready to do that much work, then you should look for a ready-made crowd for your event. Players can find an empty field to go play freestyle in anytime they want, if you’re putting on a competition and asking players to take the time and travel expense to come, you owe it to them to make it great. Having spectators isn’t everything but being able to show and share your passion with new people can be as much fun as the competition.
To make the sport more popular you will need to make the activity less about technical difficulty and more about flight of the disc and beautiful movement. The system of judging plays a significant role. Look at figure skating. It has become a contest to see who can spin around the most and land on their skates. I am amazed at the development of freestyle and I love how it has developed over the past 40 years. If judging rewards the advancement of play in a particular direction, most competitors will follow that direction. Imagine the educational process necessary to ensure the audience understood the added difficulty of against the spin. Freestyle is one of the few sports that is not following the line that has already been traced. That is what is truly beautiful.
Hey gang, great to see this conversation happening. It’s much needed. Nice goin, John Anthony, you’re preaching to my choir. What hooked me on frisbee watch watching 2 guys from 3 stories up skip the disc on both of the outside bounce points from the direct path between them. It blew my mind. I went and tried it myself and threw the dang thing over the fence and off the roof, down into the street. That was it for me.
And when Donnie Rhodes and I did halftime Knicks shows at Madison Square Garden and for the New Jersey Nets (dunno what exit), the crowd didn’t care anywhere as much about our technically difficult freestyle moves as they did tbd half court baskets we sunk. They went all batsplatforthat.
I fought tooth and nail against Krae’s DiscDance vision even while I was a part of it, lucky dog that I was, and he had it right: if you want an audience, you have to entertain them. To entertain someone, you have to focus on them, not you. Of course to be able to do that, you have to have some chops, but you get those down do you can forget them. I’ll never be able to do the things that the best players can do now, nor was I able to do them when I was at the top of my game. I never really had the skills. What I had (still got it!) was energy. Presence. Perform-ability. I could get “hot”, and the pressure of competition made me hotter. I never executed my stuff as well in demos as I was able to complete things in competition. If you watch video of me and really analyze if you’ll see that I never really did a whole lot. It used to really disappoint me when I would see what I actually wasn’t capable of. Yet I was popular. I don’t know how much of that would help me win events today, even if I had my game back (working on getting a new one!). I kinda doubt it. But I definitely wouldn’t invest a whole lot of time (or dime!) to play for the audiences that the sport attracts today.
But imnsho, and where I’m putting my energy, is on the bigger picture, as I see it. It’s this. Besides the fact that the sport itself isn’t particularly attractive to people because they don’t understand it and the stuff that gets most of the attention of modern players is not geared towards the spectacle itself, flight, emotion, speed, movement…nor do most players have the time or resources to develop themselves as performance / movement artists to the degree that their (theoretical) peers / counterparts do (because really, though it sucks to be a waiter (actor, dancer, writer) or other kind of starving artist, at least the potential payoff might possibly be worth it…the reason nobody cares about what we do is that…nobody cares about what we do. Frisbee is irrelevant in the world.
I want to change that.
Also troubling is that the good majority of players are over 50. Let’s face it, Freestyle is great, but it is sadly not even as popular as juggling or yo-yo competitions. Ultimate, and to some extent golf, are the future of disc sports.
I’m sorry but that is just not accurate. Go to Europe, Japan, or Columbia and you’ll find many young players. They far out number those over 50.
Sorry Jake, you’re just wrong. There are still way too many grey-haired competitors and finalists at major freestyle tournaments. that’s just embarrassing. But the real embarrassment is the growth rate of this sport for the last 30 years which is probably negative or flat at best. Compare this now to Ultimate which has grown exponentially and will soon become an Olympic sport. Freestyle is akin to juggling or yo-yo and truth is it is even less appealing to the masses. For those of us who appreciate freestyle, it is truly wonderful so that’s great. Unfortunately it is a niche hobby/sport that will never take off.
Not sure what you define as “too many” or “embarrassing”. Looking at the most recent open rankings: http://www.freestyledisc.org/fpa-open-rankings-update-february-2017/ 6 of the top 30 are over 50. Personally, it motivate me to still be shredding in my 50s. I’d also guess that in 2 years that number shrinks. In terms of growth over 30 years, I would love to see some stats. I was not a part of the sport in 1987, but I can say that when I started in 1995 through 2003 there was very little growth. I had met everyone there was to meet about 3 years in. Then something changed and growth exploded. Not in the USA, but in Europe. It’s still growing. Every event I attend outside the USA I meet new players. It’s not because I’ve never been there before, it’s because there are new players starting to jam. The bottom line for me is that I believe it can and will grow. Where it grows to, I don’t know. But I will keep putting in the effort.
You do that Jake.
Bravo Jake! I think crowds are great. Look at the 2015 FPA worlds in Karlsruhe – how fun was that playing in front of a big crowd.. Paganello also has big crowds every year. They love it -the idea of bringing freestyle to where the crowds already are is a good one…festivals, action sports events like NASS, etc