Tonight, Will Schusterick made this announcement: “Thank you Innova Champion and Discmania for the best years of my Disc Golf career. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. For me to continue in this sport for a long time, I will be moving on to bigger and better things next year.”
What does this mean exactly? It’s clearly not the whole story, but there are some direct statements in here- mainly the fact that Will is “moving on” from Innova and Discmania. For those who aren’t familiar with Will Schusterick, or his disc golf game… where have you been the last 2-3 years??? Will is a top 3, top 4 player in the world. At any given time he could be at THE top, or with players like Paul McBeth, Ricky Wysocki, or Dave Feldberg- he could be considered top 4. Anyway, he’s dropped his main disc manufacturer sponsorship in Innova Champion Discs according to his Facebook and Twitter accounts (on December 16th, 2012).
Unfortunately for the rest of us, we don’t know where he’s going- until whoever that company is decides they want to announce it officially. For now, for fun of course, all we can do is speculate. The early front runner (according to reliable sources- like my buddy and me talking over beers) is Dynamic Discs (check out their Player’s Page- curiously “under construction!”) How could Dynamic Discs fully sponsor a player when they only JUST released four new molds to their own manufactured line? Easy- let their players throw a mixed bag. If Dynamic Discs is willing to create their own disc line, and willing to sponsor countless top pros for the last 5+ years (already throwing different manufacturers)- they’re probably also willing to reinvent the rules. At the base level, let’s face facts, the sponsorships are about money. So, theoretically, if you won the Powerball tomorrow, and wanted to Sponsor a top disc golfer for the 2013 season- you’d probably only need a contract, a fat check, and a company name. Of course, at the end of the day everyone makes their own choices, and a company needs to sustain a good reputation- but all this is to say- if a company (like Dynamic Discs) wants to sponsor a player, they can spend as much money as they want and let them throw whatever discs they want. However, if an older more established company like Discraft allowed their best players to throw a different manufacturer’s disc molds, they’d do damage to their public image. This leaves companies like Dynamic Discs (and maybe even someone like Vibram Discs) in a great position with regards to flexibility. They can let a top pro throw a “mixed bag” and not take a huge hit on their company image.
This is my personal line of thinking with this “news” that Schusterick announced Sunday. I could be wrong, and in a way- I hope I am wrong. The more ground breaking and unpredictable the decision, combined with how well Will plays in 2013- could make big waves in the coming years with the major companies and their top pros. In 2012 we saw Nikko Locastro sign with Innova Champion Discs, but the disappointing year and apparent injuries added up to Nikko dropping the deal and going back to a mixed bag at the end of 2012. If Will goes out in 2013 and can’t win a big tournament, we’ll look back and say, “Meh. No big deal.” But if he plays as well or better than he did in 2012, we’ll have to look back and say it was a first step in the changing landscape of the pro-circuit.
If I had a crystal ball, I’d only want to see one thing (besides the winning numbers of a lotto ticket): which discs will Will Schusterick carry when he plays the first big tourney of the year in March- the Memorial. Will he still have his Destroyers? What’s he gonna putt with? Will he sign with a company like Lightning Discs and fully commit himself to discs like the #2 Hyzer and #1 Driver? Will Will sign with Legacy Discs? How about the possibility of Vibram and their new “Lace?” What are the odds that Will Schusterick starts making his own discs in his mom’s basement? Can we expect to see Will Schusterick play left-handed and take up a Discraft sponsorship? Only to switch back to Innova in 2014 and play right handed again? I hope it’s a combination of all of these things. Go get ’em Shoe-string!