For people who don't want to go to the PDGA site:
Time To Split
by Peter Shive (#7240)
In 2008 the PDGA released that year's detailed budget. Mindful of Deep Throat's advice to Woodward and Bernstein that, if they wanted to best understand what was going on they should "follow the money", I posted an extensive four-part analysis of that budget to the Discussion Board. My analysis showed that almost 90% of the discretionary budget went to support programs for Open Pros, a group that makes up about one eighth of the PDGA membership. My feeling was (and is) that, while I support a significant disparity in favor of the Open Pros, the situation had gotten out of hand. The PDGA has not released any subsequent detailed budget information, but changes in the last two years insure that the disparity has increased.
I have written often about the continuing losses of opportunity for Amateurs and older Pros. The PDGA has come to regard those members primarily as sources of spectators and revenue streams to support Open players. For example, PDGA income in 2009 was $1.36 million, $600,000 more than in 2005, but program expansion has gone almost entirely to the Open division, with little or nothing to the seven eighths of the membership that generated most of the increase.
By September 1, four of the seven PDGA Board members will be sponsored Open Pros. The Amateurs and older Pros have no effective representation, either on the Board or within the PDGA Committee structure. While I admire the Open players' initiative in packing the Board, I worry about their motivation.
I believe that the situation will deteriorate. Likely agenda items include: 1) Elimination of the Masters division; 2) Massive increases in the NT budget, plus parallel measures to make NT's even less available or friendly to older players; 3) Efforts to increase the proportion of added cash that goes to Open players in all events; 4) Measures to shunt even more PDGA cash directly to Open players; 5) Increases in budget items like publicity and marketing, that selectively support Open players and 6) New Open-only events.
We need the Masters Division. Ratings data show a real decline in ability starting at age 40. It is a large and very active division -- a key part of many events. It contains many of the most energetic contributors to our sport. It is also the first domino in the elimination of all age protection. If there is no need to protect 40-year-olds from 39-year-olds, why protect 50-year-olds from 49-year-olds, etc? And if Ken Climo's ability to cash in Open means that all MPM's should play Open, it is not much sillier to argue that Rick Voakes' ability to cash in Open means that all players in their 60's should also play Open.
The main (but seldom voiced) reason that the Masters are under attack is that the Open players want the money won by the 40-50 group. The Masters players, like the rest of us, are already heavily subsidizing the Open division. Open players have many other sources of income; they don't need to extract it from older players.
What about the other items (#2-6 in the above list)? I would actually favor many of them if only they were accompanied by increases for Amateur and Age-Protected Professional programs. But based on past history, they won't be.
How would such changes affect the membership? Most Open Pros would welcome them. But would you like them? The easiest way to judge is to ask yourself the question, "Would you rather play disc golf or watch Open Pros play disc golf?" If you would rather play, you probably won't like the future. And I'm guessing that you are a player, because there is no need to join the PDGA to become a spectator.
What to do? As recently as three years ago I wrote that it was important to preserve what I called the "PDGA Family". I believed that the available resources were sufficient to favor the Open players and at the same time support ample opportunities for Amateurs and older Pros. I worried about the duplication of effort that fragmentation would require, and the "loss of love" that separation produces.
I no longer believe that. The Open Pros want too much. It's understandable, because they have been led to believe that they can have it. But I now prefer the inefficiency to the disparity. And unfortunately, when money comes in, love goes out.
The Open Pros will have the power, come September, to take over the PDGA. That is, they could vote to require that all members be Open Pros. Ironically, this would help, because a new DGA would quickly form that would satisfy our needs. But the Open bloc on the Board won't vote for it because they depend on the subsidies from the other divisions to fund their programs.
The most efficient solution would be a split within the PDGA umbrella, with a separate Open section. The other section could be Amateur/Older Pro together. Each section would have a predetermined proportion of Board representation, and a predetermined portion of the budget, with separate oversight of the discretionary part of that budget. Will this happen? Certainly not now or soon, because without representation there is no mechanism within the PDGA by which such steps could be seriously contemplated, let alone enacted.
So what might you do, on an individual basis, if you share these concerns? Until the next election, not much. In the meantime, consider joining the Divisional Series Newsgroup. The main purpose of this Newsgroup is to identify, promote and financially support important PDGA events that offer the best opportunities for older players. To join, or for more information, contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org