If you haven't heard, Paul McBeth and Discraft signed an unprecedented 10 year, $10 million contract yesterday that's thoroughly shocking the disc golf community. Discraft produces a plethora of disc-sport products for both disc golf and ultimate, and is one of the biggest names in the industry. McBeth is probably the most well known professional disc golfer in the world, with 130 career wins and over $500k in total career earnings up until now. He is currently the highest rated player on the MPO world ranking list, according to the PDGA.
At first this new contract may not sound like a big deal, but you'd be surprised.
"He's a pro-athlete and has a ton of wins, right? Pro-athlete's sign huge contracts all the time."
True. However, not in disc golf. Up until now, disc golf has been minor in the worldwide professional sports community. Though it has a devoted community and it's growing in popularity, contracts have been relatively minor even for pro players.
McBeth's last contract with Discraft, which his new one is replacing and which was one of the largest in disc golf history at the time, was for 4 years and guaranteed to be worth over $1 million over that period. His new 10 year contract was signed only about 2 years into the existing contract and renewed it through 2031, with a significant increase in the payouts to McBeth.
This is incredibly telling of the confidence the industry has in itself, or at least that Discraft has in it. Disc golf has been growing quickly lately, as told by this recent UDisc Growth Report. This has almost certainly been sped up by the Coronavirus pandemic as well, with people looking for more outdoor activities to break up their days and a desire to get outside more. Many (if not most) disc golf manufacturers have been having trouble keeping enough stock for retailers and players are buying up discs at rates not seen before.
Discraft is taking all of these signs, as well as McBeth's continued excellence in the Pro-league, as a signal that disc golf is at the cusp of a big growth-spurt. This massive contract is nothing less than a sign of their confidence in the sport and a belief that disc golf will continue to grow in popularity and players. By taking this first step towards higher contract values all eyes are on other companies as to whether or not they will follow suit.
Paige Pierce, currently the highest ranking female professional disc golfer, is also signed with Discraft and is quickly gaining popularity. It would not come as a surprise if Discraft renewed her contract in a similar manner as McBeth (assuming the sport doesn't quickly fall into sexist player contract valuation). Catrina Allen, the second highest ranking player on the FPO list behind Pierce, is currently signed with Prodigy and Henna Blomroos, the third highest ranking player on the FPO list, is signed with Innova. Ricky Wysocki, the second highest rated player on the MPO ranking from the PDGA, is also signed with Innova, and Eagle McMahon, the third highest ranking player on the MPO list, is currently signed with Discmania.
Only time will tell if other sponsors follow Discraft in terms of professional sponsorship durations and valuations. However, with the sport growing as quickly as it is it would not come as surprise if contracts were re-upped in the next few years in a similar manner.
For now, the community continues to gawk at the incredible move Discraft and McBeth have made, and we look forward to seeing the next steps the industry will take from here.