It’s 2012 and the disc golf World Championship is officially under way in Charlotte, North Carolina. Starting this article with a disclaimer however: I’m a fan. I may play disc golf, but when it comes to touring pro’s- all I have is my opinion. Much of my opinion, for better or for worse, is based on the few clips on YouTube and live internet streamed events that I happen to see. With that out of the way, how can they not have Josh Anthon playing this year?
“It’s his own fault.”
“They gave him the same chance to register as everyone else.”
“He has nobody to blame but himself.”
“Why reward procrastination?”
There we have the most popular responses to Josh’s dilemma and subsequent denial of entry to this year’s tournament. None of those reasons tug at my heart-strings or persuade me from my desire to see him play. Josh even mentioned through his Facebook account that he’d offered $1000 dollars for entry but to no avail. In 2009 Josh tied for first place in regulation and then lost a playoff to Avery Jenkins. In 2010 Josh came in second place (tied with Feldberg and Ulibarri) to Eric McCabe, and then in 2011 he placed second (tied with Schusterick) again behind 3x champion Nate Doss. Josh Anthon has an undeniable history of performing well at World Championships.
What kind of logistical hardships are endured by penciling in one of the best touring pros in the country? Seriously, I don’t know the answer and I’m curious. Being just a fan of the game, I am biased towards the product of entertainment. I want to see the best players battle it out, and I’m a little put off by hearing the responses above. However, I do know some players personally in this year’s World Championships, and I can’t in good conscience say they deserve to be denied for the sake of Josh getting entry. Therein lies the dilemma: entertainment vs. equal opportunity. Is the disc golf world championship more about showcasing the BEST talent for the sake of a good product or is it more about giving everyone a chance to play for the title? It’s pretty clear that the latter is taking precedence. So be it I guess. As the sport grows in notoriety perhaps we’ll see a shift. It’s a fact of life that extreme talent brings extreme personality, and having to compensate for players procrastinating in instances like this is probably frustrating. However, just think of your favorite 10 athletes and ask yourself if they would be the type of person to hop online and bookmark all the important dates of registration deadlines for the World Series, Superbowl and NBA Finals. It may sound ridiculous to compare Josh Anthon to a millionaire like say, Allen Iverson, but disc golf is my sport, and to me it makes sense. I’d pay $100 bucks to see an HD live broadcast of the Disc Golf World Championships this week, but I wouldn’t even turn on the TV for the NBA Finals let alone pay money for it. To further play devil’s advocate though, the World Championships of disc golf doesn’t make (hardly any) money from spectators, so it becomes a moot point.
I simply like the style of Josh Anthon’s game. His ‘foot-shuffling’ run up on the tee box is anything but traditional. His approaches and long putts are rarely conservative. His putting skills are deadly. But he’s not out there giving lessons on YouTube (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) or being a traveling ambassador for the sport in all his spare time (from what I can tell?). His game is his game. When it comes down to it, he offers the casual viewer and fan a different kind of player to root for, and it’s a bummer that we won’t be seeing him this year. I like all the friendly faces (I won’t bother naming names) of the National Tour and honestly believe they’re all hard working players with good intentions. But on the other side of the coin, seeing a player like Josh go out and throw red-hot, course-record rounds is always entertaining. This year’s worlds will be lacking a bit of that edge.