2023 Fandom Survey: Which Pros Do We Root For (and Against)?


Evaluating
pro
player
popularity
in
disc
golf.

Simon
Lizotte
does
his
signature
high
five
run
after
winning
the
2023
Music
City
Open.
Photo:
DGPT

We
are
back
with
an
all-new
series
of
articles
based
on
the
data
collected
in
our
annual
Fandom
Survey.
In
2022,
we
ran
our
first
Fandom
Survey,
exploring
what
draws
people
toward–or
against–specific
players.
What
is
it
about
some
competitors
that
cause
us
to
cheer
for
them
while
other
players–often
equally
skilled–push
us
away?
This
year,
we
added
new
sections
to
the
survey
to
learn
what
fans
think
of
disc
manufacturers
and
DGN/Jomez
commentators,
among
other
topics.

This
series
of
articles
aims
to
provide
insights
by
analyzing
a
rich
data
set
produced
from
the
2023
Ultiworld
Disc
Golf/StatMando
fandom
survey.
Thank
you
to
the
3040
people
who
filled
out

our
survey
.
We
are
no
longer
accepting
new
responses,
but
if
you
wish
to
be
notified
about
the
release
of
the
2024
survey,
please

enter
your
email
address
here
.
We
will
only
use
the
provided
email
addresses
for
survey-related
communication.

If
you
wish
to
learn
more
about
the
survey
and
the
demographics
of
the
survey
respondents,
please
read

this
accompanying
article
.

***

We
are
leading
off
this
series
with
what
many
of
you
are
most
interested
in

who
are
the
most
popular
players
in
the
sport?
We
selected
37
MPO
and
20
FPO
players
and
asked
survey
respondents:
On
a
ten-point
scale,
are
you
rooting
against
or
for
these
players
below?

We
provided
these
instructions:
A
player
that
you
dislike
would
get
a
number
less
than
5,
with
your
least
favorite
player/s
getting
a
0.
A
player
you
are
neutral
on
would
get
a
5.
A
player
you
like
would
get
a
number
above
5.
Your
favorite
player/s
would
get
a
9
or
a
10.

We
use
the
term
Fandom
Score

to
describe
the
value
that
a
survey
respondent
gives
to
a
pro
for
this
question.
Many
of
the
future
articles
in
this
series
will
use
average
Fandom
Scores,
which
can
be
used
to
understand
how
our
identity
and
biographical
backgrounds
affect
how
we
feel
about
certain
players.
Fandom
Scores
can
also
be
used
as
a
benchmark
to
see
how
a
player’s
popularity
changes
over
time.

Below
are
the
average
Fandom
Scores
for
the
pros
we
included
in
this
year’s
survey:


Average
Fandom
Score
for
Professionals
Featured
in
the
2023
Survey

  • Most
    of
    the
    charts
    in
    this
    series
    of
    articles
    have
    extra
    data
    you
    can
    see
    if
    you
    mouse
    over
    (or
    touch
    on
    mobile)
    any
    of
    the
    lines
    or
    bars.
    For
    example,
    on
    this
    chart,
    you
    can
    see
    where
    players
    ranked
    this
    year
    and
    last
    year.
  • The
    top
    six
    ranked
    players
    are
    the
    same
    players
    from
    last
    year,
    but
    the
    order
    has
    been
    slightly
    shuffled.
    This
    year,
    Simon
    Lizotte
    takes
    the
    top
    spot
    in
    average
    Fandom
    Score,
    with
    a
    solid
    lead
    over
    Kristin
    Tattar,
    who
    had
    the
    highest
    average
    Fandom
    Score
    last
    year
    with
    a
    9.11.
    Calvin
    Heimburg,
    Nate
    Sexton,
    Matt
    Orum,
    and
    Ohn
    Scoggins
    also
    remained
    in
    the
    top
    6.
  • The
    bottom
    three
    remain
    the
    same
    from
    last
    year,
    with
    Natalie
    Ryan,
    Nikko
    Locastro,
    and
    Joel
    Freeman
    shuffling
    positions.
  • We
    added
    a
    few
    players
    to
    the
    survey
    this
    year.
    Paul
    Ulibarri
    and
    Sai
    Ananda
    both
    debuted
    with
    high
    scores,
    ranking
    7th
    and
    10th,
    respectively.
    OTB
    Open
    champion
    Emerson
    Keith’s
    debut
    on
    the
    survey
    was
    on
    the
    opposite
    end
    of
    the
    spectrum,
    having
    the
    5th
    worst
    score.

Here
are
the
distribution
of
scores
for
each
player
represented
as
percentages
of
the
total
number
of
responses.

First,
MPO:


MPO
Fandom
Score
Distribution

  • This
    year,
    the
    Y-axis
    was
    stretched
    out
    most
    by
    Lauri
    Lehtinen,
    one
    of
    the
    top
    players
    out
    of
    Finland.
    58.7%
    of
    respondents
    who
    rated
    him
    gave
    him
    a
    5,
    which
    is
    a
    neutral
    response.
    He
    was
    fulfilling
    his
    military
    duty
    for
    much
    of
    this
    season
    and
    did
    not
    compete
    on
    the
    Disc
    Golf
    Pro
    Tour
    (DGPT),
    so
    he
    is
    likely
    to
    be
    unfamiliar
    to
    a
    US
    audience
    despite
    finishing
    13th
    at
    Worlds
    this
    year.
    Another
    top
    Finn,
    Niklas
    Anttila,
    competed
    more
    in
    the
    US
    and
    had
    only
    19.7%
    of
    submitted
    scores
    being
    5.
  • When
    a
    fan
    gives
    a
    player
    a
    score
    less
    than
    5,
    they
    are
    indicating
    that
    they
    cheer
    against
    that
    player.
    A
    few
    MPO
    competitors
    stood
    out
    as
    having
    very
    few
    negative
    responses.
    For
    example,
    Simon
    Lizotte
    and
    Nate
    Sexton
    only
    had
    2.2%
    and
    2.9%
    of
    their
    responses
    below
    5,
    respectively.
    Calvin
    Heimburg
    came
    in
    at
    3.1%.
    Matt
    Orum
    and
    Niklas
    Anttila
    were
    the
    next
    best
    at
    6.4%
    each.
  • On
    the
    opposite
    end,
    the
    majority
    of
    fans
    root
    against
    Nikko
    Locastro
    and
    Joel
    Freeman.
  • 5
    was
    the
    most
    frequently
    recorded
    Fandom
    Score
    when
    looking
    across
    players

    19.2%
    of
    scores
    given
    were
    5s.
    In
    2022,
    19.4%
    of
    scores
    were
    5s.
    The
    second
    highest
    Fandom
    Score
    frequency
    was
    7,
    which
    was
    recorded
    14.4%
    of
    the
    time.
    Last
    year,
    7s
    came
    in
    at
    14.5%
    of
    scores,
    showing
    consistent
    year-to-year
    trends.
  • Ricky
    Wysocki’s
    distribution
    had
    the
    smallest
    range
    in
    percentage
    between
    his
    most
    frequent
    (5s
    at
    18.4%)
    and
    least
    frequent
    scores
    (1s
    at
    3.1%).
    Last
    year,
    we
    also
    pointed
    out
    that
    he
    had
    a
    relatively
    uniform
    distribution
    (i.e.,
    flat)
    compared
    to
    other
    pros.
    We
    surmised
    that
    due
    to
    his
    prominence
    in
    the
    sport,
    fans
    are
    likely
    to
    have
    formed
    opinions
    of
    him,
    and
    those
    opinions
    are
    defined
    and
    diverse,
    as
    opposed
    to
    a
    player
    that
    fans
    haven’t
    spent
    that
    much
    time
    thinking
    about.
    Other
    MPO
    players
    with
    somewhat
    flat
    distributions
    are
    Anthony
    Barela,
    Gannon
    Buhr,
    Brodie
    Smith,
    and
    Paul
    McBeth.


2023
FPO
Fandom
Score
Distribution

  • For
    FPO,
    it
    was
    also
    a
    Finnish
    player
    that
    may
    be
    unfamiliar
    to
    an
    American
    audience
    that
    stretched
    the
    Y-axis.
    Although
    Heidi
    Laine
    did
    play
    in
    several
    DGPT
    events
    and
    all
    four
    of
    the
    Majors,
    60.5%
    of
    her
    scores
    were
    5s.
    Heidi
    Laine
    has
    been
    featured
    in
    Clash
    Discs
    commercials
    on
    DGN,
    but
    perhaps
    her
    personality
    and
    game
    aren’t
    shining
    through.
  • The
    FPO
    players
    with
    the
    fewest
    negative
    responses
    were
    Kristin
    Tattar
    (3.2%
    of
    responses
    <
    5),
    followed
    by
    Ohn
    Scoggins
    (4.4%),
    Alexis
    Mandujano
    (5.5%),
    and
    Sai
    Ananda
    (6.6%)
  • FPO
    athletes
    (24.6%)
    were
    more
    likely
    to
    get
    5s
    than
    MPO
    athletes
    (19.2%).
    This
    may
    be
    caused
    by
    survey
    respondents
    who
    are
    less
    familiar
    with
    the
    FPO
    field.
  • Respondents
    rooted
    against
    MPO
    athletes
    more
    than
    FPO
    athletes.
    In
    general,
    FPO
    athletes
    received
    fewer
    scores
    below
    5
    than
    MPO;
    17.8%
    of
    scores
    for
    MPO
    were
    between
    0
    and
    4
    while
    16.7%
    were
    in
    the
    0-4
    range
    for
    FPO.
  • Respondents
    also
    gave
    more
    positive
    scores
    to
    the
    men;
    63.0%
    of
    MPO
    scores
    were
    in
    the
    6-10
    range
    compared
    to
    58.7%
    for
    FPO.
  • Paige
    Pierce
    had
    the
    flattest
    distribution
    of
    any
    player
    featured
    in
    the
    survey.
    Catrina
    Allen
    also
    had
    a
    relatively
    uniform
    distribution,
    signaling
    these
    two
    very
    established
    players
    have
    accumulated
    a
    rich
    diversity
    of
    both
    fans
    and
    haters
    over
    the
    years.

***

This
next
chart
shows
changes
in
average
Fandom
Score
rankings
since
2022.
Note
that
we
included
six
more
pros
this
year
who
are
not
included
in
this
chart.


Change
in
Fandom
Score
Ranking
for
Each
Pro
Featured
on
both
2022
and
2023
Fandom
Surveys

This
chart
shows
the
percent
change
in
average
Fandom
Score
between
2022
and
2023:


Percentage
Change
in
Average
Fandom
Score
Between
2023
and
2022

  • In
    2022,
    we
    used
    a
    1-10
    scale
    for
    rating
    players,
    while
    in
    2023
    we
    chose
    to
    use
    a
    0-10
    scale
    to
    make
    5
    a
    truly
    neutral
    answer.
    To
    make
    a
    fair
    comparison
    from
    2022
    to
    2023,
    we
    calculated
    the
    ratio
    of
    0’s
    to
    1’s
    in
    2023
    for
    each
    player
    individually
    and
    used
    each
    player’s
    0-to-1
    ratio
    to
    change
    a
    percentage
    of
    their
    1s
    to
    0s
    in
    2022.
  • Issac
    Robinson
    had
    the
    largest
    increase
    in
    average
    (and
    rank)
    Fandom
    Score,
    going
    from
    5.98
    in
    2022
    to
    7.14
    in
    2023.
    Winning
    your
    first
    two
    Majors
    in
    the
    same
    year
    has
    a
    way
    of
    doing
    that.
    It
    will
    be
    interesting
    to
    see
    if
    other
    players
    in
    the
    future
    can
    match
    this
    meteoric
    rise
    both
    on
    the
    course
    and
    in
    the
    fans’
    hearts.
    That
    said,
    he
    is
    ranked
    9th
    and
    still
    has
    room
    to
    grow.
  • Niklas
    Anttila
    had
    the
    second-highest
    jump
    in
    rank
    and
    percentage
    gain.
    His
    profile
    surely
    rose
    with
    three
    top-7
    finishes
    at
    the
    Majors,
    including
    2nd
    place
    at
    Champions
    Cup.
    According
    to
    a
    fandom
    poll
    with
    over
    2000
    responses
    conducted
    by
    Discmania
    in
    Finland,
    Anttila
    eclipsed
    Lizotte
    as
    the
    most
    popular
    player
    in
    Finland
    in
    2023.
    Only
    63
    respondents
    from
    Finland
    took
    the
    Ultiworld
    Disc
    Golf/StatMando
    Fandom
    Survey.
  • Brodie
    Smith
    and
    Ezra
    Aderhold
    both
    made
    significant
    gains.
    They
    are
    featured
    on
    programming
    by
    Foundation
    Disc
    Golf
    (Smith
    is
    a
    part
    owner),
    so
    they
    were
    likely
    boosted
    by
    the
    significant
    number
    of
    respondents
    who
    found
    out
    about
    the
    survey
    through
    Foundation.
  • Gannon
    Buhr
    and
    Alden
    Harris
    also
    became
    more
    popular
    this
    year.
    Harris’
    very
    successful
    YouTube
    channel
    could
    be
    a
    major
    factor
    in
    their
    increased
    popularity.
    Both
    Robinson
    brothers
    and
    Gavin
    Babcock
    also
    feature
    in
    their
    videos.
    If
    we
    had
    data
    on
    all
    these
    individuals,
    it
    might
    be
    easier
    to
    diagnose
    how
    much
    can
    be
    attributed
    to
    social
    media
    and
    how
    much
    can
    be
    attributed
    to
    on
    the
    course
    performance.
    As
    always,
    another
    factor
    could
    be
    the
    demographics
    of
    our
    respondents.
    These
    players
    polled
    higher
    with
    religious
    respondents,
    and
    we
    had
    a
    higher
    percentage
    of
    religious
    respondents
    in
    2023
    compared
    to
    2022.
  • Lizotte
    averaged
    an
    8.98
    in
    2022
    and
    an
    8.99
    this
    year.
    Consistent.
  • Natalie
    Ryan’s
    average
    Fandom
    Score
    dropped
    by
    31.4%.
    Part
    of
    the
    reason
    why
    it
    is
    such
    a
    pronounced
    drop
    is
    she
    had
    a
    low
    score
    last
    year
    to
    begin
    with,
    as
    dropping
    from
    4.40
    to
    3.02
    is
    a
    bigger
    percentage
    drop
    than
    dropping
    from
    say,
    8.40
    to
    7.02.
    That
    said,
    Natalie
    had
    the
    largest
    drop
    in
    her
    actual
    average
    Fandom
    Score
    in
    a
    year
    in
    which
    she
    sued
    the
    PDGA
    and
    DGPT
    multiple
    times
    after
    being
    barred
    from
    FPO
    competition
    at
    Elite
    and
    Major
    events
    because
    she
    is
    a
    transgender
    female.
    The
    second
    largest
    drop
    was
    from
    the
    injured
    Drew
    Gibson,
    who
    dropped
    by
    1.2,
    a
    21.5%
    decline.
  • Two
    former
    World
    Champions
    saw
    very
    large
    declines
    in
    their
    average
    Fandom
    Score.
    Sarah
    Hokom’s
    average
    score
    fell
    by
    13.1%,
    and
    Catrina
    Allen’s
    fell
    by
    17.8%.
    They
    were
    among
    the
    most
    vocal
    players
    speaking
    out
    against
    Ryan
    playing
    in
    FPO,
    and
    that
    is
    likely
    linked
    to
    what
    were
    pronounced
    declines
    in
    their
    popularity.
    In
    2022,
    Hokom
    had
    a
    -0.04
    Average
    Fandom
    Score
    preference
    gap
    with
    left-wing
    respondents,
    while
    in
    2023
    it
    was
    -0.61.
    Similarly,
    Allen
    went
    from
    -0.38
    in
    2022
    to
    -1.51
    with
    left-wing
    respondents
    in
    2023.
  • An
    additional
    four
    former
    World
    Champions

    Wysocki,
    McBeth,
    Pierce,
    and
    Barsby

    saw
    significant
    declines
    in
    popularity.
    2023
    was
    a
    year
    where
    it
    felt
    like
    there
    was
    a
    changing
    of
    the
    guard,
    which
    also
    seems
    to
    be
    reflected
    in
    the
    popularity
    of
    some
    of
    the
    most
    dominant
    players
    of
    the
    past
    decade.

***

The
timing
of
this
year’s
survey
collection
period
coincided
with
some
career-defining
performances,
which
allowed
us
to
measure
the
impact
of
winning
on
the
Fandom
Scores
of
players.
This
chart
shows
the
change
in
Fandom
Score
after
an
important
win
that
took
place
during
the
56
days
our
survey
was
open:


Change
in
Fandom
Score
after
an
Important
Win

  • The
    respondents
    who
    took
    the
    survey
    after
    Robinson’s
    Worlds
    win,
    on
    average,
    gave
    him
    a
    2.7%
    higher
    Fandom
    Score
    than
    pre-victory
    respondents.
    As
    we
    saw
    earlier,
    Robinson’s
    average
    score
    went
    up
    by
    19.3%
    this
    season,
    so
    most
    of
    Robinson’s
    rise
    in
    popularity
    happened
    before
    Worlds.
  • Orum’s
    first
    Elite
    series
    win
    at
    the
    MVP
    Open
    gave
    him
    a
    sizable
    9.1%
    post-win
    boost.
    It
    makes
    sense
    that
    his
    popularity
    was
    being
    held
    back
    a
    bit
    by
    his
    inability
    to
    win.
    With
    the
    monkey
    off
    his
    back,
    fans
    had
    even
    more
    reasons
    to
    like
    this
    already
    very
    popular
    player.
  • Holyn
    Handley’s
    score
    went
    down
    after
    winning
    the
    Throw
    Pink
    Championship,
    by
    far
    the
    biggest
    win
    of
    her
    career.
    This
    is
    surely
    because
    of
    the
    controversy
    on
    hole
    18
    of
    the
    final
    round
    where
    Handley
    and
    her
    cardmates
    gave
    her
    a
    favorable
    spot
    that
    could
    have
    been
    the
    difference
    in
    the
    tournament’s
    outcome.
    She
    also
    won
    at
    the
    expense
    of
    Tattar,
    an
    immensely
    popular
    player.
    Had
    she
    beaten
    a
    different
    player,
    perhaps
    there
    would
    have
    been
    less
    of
    a
    backlash.
  • Kyle
    Klein
    had
    a
    slight
    bump
    in
    popularity
    after
    winning
    his
    first
    Major
    at
    USDGC.

***

The
more
conventional
way
to
judge
player
popularity
is
by
asking
fans
to
choose
who
their
favorite
players
are
in
each
division:


“Who
is
your
favorite
MPO
player?”

  • Lizotte
    is
    the
    favorite
    player
    for
    nearly
    a
    third
    of
    respondents,
    while
    Heimburg
    and
    McBeth
    took
    the
    2nd
    and
    3rd
    spots,
    respectively.
  • This
    year,
    the
    four
    MPO
    Majors
    were
    won
    by
    three
    players
    who
    are
    a
    combined
    favorite
    of
    5.3%
    of
    our
    respondents.
    Robinson’s
    4.1%
    is
    actually
    tied
    for
    an
    impressive
    fourth
    overall,
    but
    both
    Ellis
    (0.7%)
    and
    Klein
    (0.5%)
    show
    that
    winning
    Majors
    is
    only
    a
    piece
    of
    the
    puzzle
    when
    it
    comes
    to
    popularity.

Let’s
look
at
the
change
in
these
numbers
from
last
year
to
this
year.


Percentage
change
in
“Who
is
your
favorite
MPO*
player?”

  • Lizotte
    and
    Heimburg
    greatly
    rose
    in
    popularity
    this
    year.
    What
    were
    the
    causes
    for
    their
    rise
    in
    popularity?
    For
    Lizotte,
    the
    switch
    to
    MVP
    could
    be
    part
    of
    the
    picture.
    For
    Heimburg,
    it
    is
    likely
    his
    emergence
    as
    “the
    final
    boss”
    in
    2023,
    where
    he
    was
    consistently
    on
    podiums
    throughout
    the
    season.
  • Where
    did
    they
    pick
    up
    those
    extra
    fans?
    Perhaps
    some
    of
    them
    came
    from
    the
    decline
    in
    fans
    that
    McBeth
    and
    Wysocki
    once
    had.
    Some
    also
    likely
    came
    due
    to
    a
    change
    in
    question
    structure.
    We
    combined
    FPO
    and
    MPO
    for
    this
    question
    in
    2022
    but
    decided
    to
    separate
    them
    in
    2023.
    In
    2022,
    13%
    of
    responses
    were
    FPO
    players,
    including
    6.4%
    of
    fans
    who
    chose
    Tattar.
    Last
    year,
    we
    were
    also
    permissive
    with
    respondents
    choosing
    more
    than
    one
    player
    as
    their
    favorite,
    in
    effect
    allowing
    more
    than
    one
    vote
    per
    respondent.
    This
    year,
    we
    did
    not
    allow
    more
    than
    one
    favorite
    and
    discarded
    votes
    from
    fans
    who
    overlooked
    the
    instructions.
  • Earlier,
    we
    noted
    that
    players
    associated
    with
    Foundation
    Disc
    Golf
    saw
    their
    Fandom
    Scores
    increase
    more
    than
    most
    players.
    That
    did
    not
    result
    in
    a
    large
    percentage
    increase
    in
    the
    number
    of
    fans
    who
    named
    Smith
    and
    other
    Foundation-related
    players
    as
    their
    favorites.


“Who
is
your
favorite
FPO
player?”

  • For
    FPO,
    nearly
    half
    of
    the
    respondents
    chose
    Tattar
    as
    their
    favorite
    player
    in
    the
    division,
    which
    is
    both
    incredible
    and
    at
    the
    same
    time
    not
    shocking.
  • Scoggins
    had
    a
    solid
    11.1%
    of
    the
    votes,
    and
    the
    rest
    of
    the
    field
    comprised
    the
    remaining
    40%.

***

Lastly,
we
asked
respondents
a
slightly
different
question,
“Who
would
you
most
want
to
hang
out
with?”


Which
player
would
you
most
want
to
hang
out
with?

  • We
    combined
    MPO
    and
    FPO
    players
    for
    this
    question
    and
    the
    most
    striking
    result
    is
    how
    few
    FPO
    competitors
    respondents
    want
    to
    hang
    out
    with.
  • Lizotte
    has
    nearly
    the
    same
    percentage
    of
    fans
    who
    chose
    him
    as
    their
    favorite
    player
    as
    the
    player
    they
    want
    to
    hang
    out
    with.
    So
    are
    those
    all
    the
    same
    respondents
    choosing
    him
    on
    both
    questions?
    Actually
    no.
    Of
    the
    863
    people
    who
    chose
    Simon
    as
    their
    favorite
    MPO
    player,
    only
    428
    (49.6%)
    also
    chose
    him
    as
    the
    player
    they
    most
    wanted
    to
    hang
    out
    with.
  • There
    were
    a
    few
    players
    who
    had
    a
    higher
    “want
    to
    hang
    out
    percentage”
    than
    “favorite
    player”
    percentage.
    The
    players
    with
    the
    largest
    “hang”
    gap
    were
    the
    BigSexy
    commentating
    team
    of
    Jeremy
    “Big
    Jerm”
    Koling
    and
    Nate
    Sexton.

***

Thank
you
for
reading
this
lengthy
piece.
My
thanks
to
Karl
Lamothe
for
his
assistance
in
editing
this
piece
as
well
as
the
rest
of
the
StatMando
team
with
data
analysis
and
preparation.
Once
again,
if
you
wish
to
be
notified
when
next
year’s
survey
is
ready
or
want
to
be
emailed
when
survey
results
are
released,
please

enter
your
email
address
here
.
If
you
are
interested
in
being
involved
in
the
survey
and
have
experience
in
polling
or
a
profession
related
to
studying
surveys,
please
get
in
touch
with
us
at


[email protected]
.

Please
see
the
full
series
of
2023
articles
by
following
these
links:


  • The
    Survey
    Itself
    &
    Who
    Took
    It

  • Which
    Pros
    Do
    We
    Root
    For
    and
    Against
  • How
    Fans
    Feel
    about
    Disc
    Manufacturers:
    Coming
    This
    Offseason
  • Fans
    Relation
    to
    Discs:
    Coming
    This
    Offseason
  • How
    Fans
    Feel
    about
    Media
    and
    Commentators:
    Coming
    This
    Offseason
  • How
    Fans
    Feel
    about
    Courses:
    Coming
    This
    Offseason
  • More
    Findings
    From
    The
    Fandom
    Survey:
    Coming
    This
    Offseason

Links
for
the
2022
Fandom
Series
articles
can
be
found

here
.

Original source

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