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A Cultural Phenomenon
If you have ever played any sport or have been in the vicinity of any physical movement, as an adult then you have no-doubt been nearby to beer. From bowling to slow-pitch softball to my personal favorite, disc golf, all grassroots sports enthusiasts love a good yeasty brew to go along with their game.
I don’t think the importance of local beer leagues can be overstated. For some, these leagues are a means to flex those high-school skills. For others, the leagues are a great social bonding experience. Whatever the reason for people wanting to play adult kickball (insert your favorite sport here if you don’t like my using kickball) it’s clear that everyone is looking for a sense of community.
Ok, so where does the importance of beer come from? Look me dead in my eyes and say you can play kickball without drinking. There’s no shot! Jokes aside, you can peer through the annals of time and no matter where you stop, you’re sure to find the cultural impact that beer has on a population. Today is no different. Beer brings people together. Folks sharing a common experience – in the case, sports – also share in beer. These social constructs are vital to the grassroots sports scene.
Let me tell you a little bit about my favorite sport to play…disc golf. You might call if frisbee golf, and that’s fine – don’t let anyone bully you about the name of throwing plastic at a chained basket. Any who, I started playing disc golf in 2009. Back then we had no idea what we were doing. We knew some discs were called drivers and some called putters. We didn’t know how to throw the discs properly, so we threw them overhead – like a baseball pitch. Rotator cuffs were screaming… No matter the scores, one thing was certain, we had plenty of beer for the whole round. It wasn’t long before we are carrying coolers full of beer every time we played.
You may have a preconceived notion about the fine folks that play disc golf. You may think they’re tie-dye shirts, baggy shorts, sandals, cheap beer, and lots of Mary Jane. That’s true, but there’s more to than that! I love this wacky sport, but I’m none of the aforementioned things – except the beer. Gotta have the beer. My disc golf friend group has a wide mix of all types of people. But the stereotypes of disc golfers can be a bit meaner still. I still hear people that aren’t familiar with the sport saying things like “These people just drink beer and leave their cans all over the place… They’re rude to people and a bad influence on children…” Now I’m not that big a fool, of course there are always going to be a few bad apples in every bunch, but I’ve never personally come across anyone directly being this super awful person on the course. In fact, all my friends pick up any litter we come across.
Indulge me for a moment if you will. Allow me to draw some parallels to golf. I’m sure you’ve all seen on the internet videos of guys in golf carts pounding drinks and acting a fool. I gobble these videos up! I think they’re hilarious! But these make you think… why, even as crazy as these videos can be, is this more socially acceptable than the image of disc golfers? I can speculate as much as the next person, but ultimately it doesn’t really matter.
All I’m trying to say is that disc golf is a diverse cast of characters and they’re good folks.
Beer is the great unifier. It’s what brings people together. It’s more than a social lubricant. It’s elevated. It’s ascended. I can’t imagine watching a hockey game or going to the baseball field without getting a few beers. It’s like going to a movie theater and not getting popcorn. It’s truly unethical.
As sports continue to grow more and more professional, the more the cultural zeitgeist seems to be shifting further and further away from where these sports came from. The roots of disc golf start with the people that play the game day-in and day-out. It’s grassroots tournaments, and groups of friends getting together to push each other.
In my mind, both grassroots and professional areas are able to co-exist just the same as the PGA and small-town golf courses. As a spectator at any PGA event, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone not double fisting Michelob Ultra’s. Those are the same people that take that beer loving energy back to their local courses and get a cooler full at the club house.
Beer is crucial in any type of sport. Whether you’re a spectator or a participant. As long as you got your favorite beer flowing (responsibly) then you’re a part of the cultural movement in this country. Disc golf is a small community, but with beer, we’re bridging the gaps between us and all sports.
Now go crack a can, open a bottle, or pour pint and go have some fun. Life’s too short not to drink some beer and share some smiles with friends.