How fans perceive the sport’s top players — and biggest rivals
February 2, 2023 by Jesse Weisz in Analysis with comments
This article is part of a series intended to provide insights into disc golf fandom. These insights will come through analyzing a rich data set produced by the first-ever Ultiworld/StatMando fandom survey. Here are the other articles in this series:
The Survey Itself And Who Took It
Which Pros Do We Root For and Against
How Fans See Disc Golf Part 1
How Fans See Disc Golf Part 2
How Gender Affects Who We Root For
How Height, Introversion/Extroversion, and Age Correlate With Who Fans Root For
Paul McBeth and Ricky Wysocki, the two most dominant players of the past 10 years, make up clearly the biggest rivalry in MPO disc golf of the moment, if not of all time. This article dives into how respondents of the Ultiworld/StatMando Survey perceive Ricky vs. Paul.
To begin, let’s set the stage with some simple comparisons of fandom scores given to these players by our 1503 respondents:
- McBeth had an average fandom score of 7.29, while Wysocki averaged a 6.02 (Follow this link if you want to know how a Fandom Score is calculated.)
- Of the 1503 respondents, 397 gave McBeth a fandom score of 10, the highest score a respondent can give. In comparison, Wysocki received 163 fandom scores of 10. McBeth has ~2.4x as many 10 ratings.
- Fandom scores greater than 5 suggest the respondent is rooting for a player to some degree; 1139 respondents gave McBeth a fandom score between 6-10, whereas 859 gave Wysocki a fandom score between 6-10
- Fandom scores less than 5 suggest the respondent is rooting against the player to some degree; 220 respondents gave McBeth a fandom score between 1-4, whereas 435 gave Wysocki a fandom score between 1-4.
- Respondents of the Ultiworld/StatMando fandom survey are clearly more likely to root for McBeth than Wysocki.
Next, let’s look at how McBeth fans feel about Wysocki and vice versa. The matrix below illustrates the number of respondents (i.e., count) that gave various combinations of fandom scores to McBeth and Wysocki.
- 51 respondents gave McBeth a 10 and Wysocki a 1.
- 17 respondents gave Wysocki a 10 and McBeth a 1.
- There are exactly 3 times as many 10/1 (McBeth rooters/Wysocki boo-ers) respondents as 1/10 (Wysocki rooters/McBeth boo-ers) respondents.
- Of the 1497 respondents that gave fandom scores to both players (some respondents skipped giving them scores), only 68 gave 10/1 or 1/10 scores to the two players suggesting that the rivalry between McBeth/Wysocki fans isn’t as heated and polarizing as some might expect.
- Nevertheless, respondents who gave McBeth or Wysocki a 10 were more likely to root against the other; 38% of respondents who gave McBeth a 10 root against Wysocki (i.e., fandom score 1-4), while 24% of respondents who gave Wysocki a 10 root against McBeth.
- Alternatively, 25% of respondents who did not give McBeth a 10 root against Wysocki, while only 14% of respondents who did not give Wysocki a 10 root against McBeth.
- 6 respondents gave McBeth and Wysocki a 1/1, totally rooting against both athletes. 57 respondents gave both Ricky and Paul scores of 4 or lower.
- 32 respondents gave McBeth and Wysocki a 5, which is considered a neutral score where you are neither rooting for nor against a player.
- 44 respondents gave Ricky and Paul both 10s.
To visualize how respondent scores for McBeth and Wysocki correlate with biographical traits, I created the differential graphs below. The numbers in these graphs reflect the fandom score average for McBeth (7.29) and Wysocki (6.02) subtracted from the average fandom score of a specific segment of respondents. A positive value indicates that the featured segment of respondents favored the player more than the average respondent. A negative score indicates that the featured segment of respondents favored the player less than the average respondent.
I added an asterisk* next to any segment with a sample size of fewer than 100 people to identify them as unreliable data. You can see the sample size of each segment by placing your cursor over any bar in the graph.
- There is essentially no difference in preference for Wysocki or McBeth among male respondents relative to the average, yet females gave both players higher fandom scores, on average. However, the sample size is driving this pattern.1
- McBeth is favored by extroverted people over introverted people, while Wysocki has a slight negative preference for both extroverted and introverted people. You might ask, how can both scores be negative? Answer: Not everyone answered all the questions. We collected Introverted/Extroverted data through self-reported Meyers-Briggs types. We only received these data for 546 of the 1503 respondents, indicating that respondents that did not give us their Myers Briggs information slightly preferred Wysocki to respondents who did give us their Myers Briggs information.
- On average, McBeth and Wysocki were less popular with non-religious respondents; McBeth had a 0.53 preference gap when comparing religious respondents to non-religious respondents.
- Similarly, both athletes were the least popular with left-wing respondents. Ring-Wing respondents showed a strong preference for McBeth relative to the survey average. You can see a larger deviation from the average for Wysocki compared to McBeth in some of these segments, such as Left Wing, Centrist, and Apolitical respondents. Note that a larger deviation doesn’t indicate those segments gave Wysocki higher average fandom scores than McBeth as the two had different average fandom scores. Below we further illustrate the gaps in each segment between Wysocki and McBeth.
- Respondents who live in North America prefer both McBeth and Wysocki to respondents who live in Europe. This makes sense as the Europeans probably want European players to be successful on tour, and that means getting past McBeth and Wysocki. The North American preference for both players is just barely above the average fandom score for all respondents, which also makes sense because 1238 out of the 1503 respondents reported living in North America, making them a large majority of the scores contributing to the overall average.
- McBeth is strongly preferred by rural respondents compared to urban respondents, with a 1.06 differential between those segments. The community type didn’t greatly influence the average fandom score of Wysocki, but overall suburbanites like Wysocki the most.
- The higher the level of education a respondent has, the less likely they were to root for Wysocki. For McBeth, there wasn’t a clear trend.
- Both shorter and taller males gave McBeth slightly lower-than-average fandom scores. That suggests men between the height of 5’9″ and 6′0″ (plus women) must like McBeth more than the average respondent.
- People that preferred McBeth to Wysocki were, on average, 70.82 inches tall and people that preferred Wysocki to McBeth were 70.88 inches tall; no substantial difference.
- The largest deviation in fandom score from the average for Wysocki was from people born in the Silent/Baby Boomer generation, giving him an average fandom score that is 1.11 points above his average. Keep in mind we only had 53 respondents in this segment, so it is prone to error with such a small sample. That could be why this score is such an outlier. The younger the respondent, the less likely they were to cheer for Wysocki.
- McBeth also received his highest fandom scores from the Silent/Baby Boomer generation, but the rest of the generations (X, Millenial, and Z) generally conformed to the average.
- McBeth had some large swings in average fandom score depending on when a respondent started following pro disc golf. He is most popular with fans that started following professional disc golf during McBeth’s most dominant period (2009-2015) and was least popular with respondents who were new to following professional disc golf (2021-2022). Wysocki was most popular with the longest fans of disc golf and least popular with the 2020 pandemic fans.
- The more competitive a respondent is when playing disc golf, the more likely they were to root for McBeth, with a fairly large gap of 0.92 between least and most competitive. There was a very small gap between the least and most competitive respondents for Wysocki.
- Respondents that prefer live coverage were more likely to root for McBeth than respondents who prefer post-produced coverage. Wysocki was the opposite to some degree, but his results did not have a consistent trend.
If we look at all of the segments and take the most favorable segments for each player, we can try to characterize what biographical factors show the greatest correlation with respondents who identified as McBeth or Wysocki fans.
The hypothetical person that would most likely root for Wysocki would be: An introverted, mildly religious, politically-centrist female who lives in a suburban community in North America, is a high school graduate without a Bachelor’s degree, was born in 1968 or earlier, started following professional disc golf between 1976 and 2008, is very competitive when playing disc golf, and leans toward watching live coverage.
The hypothetical person that would most likely root for McBeth would be: An introverted, very religious, right-wing female who lives in a rural community in North America, has a 2-year degree, was born in 1968 or earlier, started following professional disc golf between 2009 and 2015, is very competitive when playing disc golf, and prefers watching live coverage.
How many respondents fit all of these qualities for each player? I didn’t even have to search as I know there were no female respondents that started following disc golf before 2009. After removing gender as a factor there was still no one that fit all of those most favorable segments for either player.
This is all to say, there is nothing definitive about these segments that will make you a fan of one of these players. You can love or hate these players no matter who you are!
Also of note, McBeth and Wysocki’s biggest fans share a lot of similar qualities. We plan on releasing an article later in this series showing players that evoke opposite reactions from fans.
This next graph shows the preference gap when McBeth and Wysocki go head-to-head in each of the segments shown in the graphs above.
- McBeth received a higher average fandom score than Wysocki in all 38 segments featured in these charts. This suggests to me that if we had a random sampling of any 1503 disc golf fans, McBeth would be the more popular of the two as he beat Wysocki in every segment.
- McBeth’s largest preference gap (1.85) between himself and Wysocki was with respondents who started following professional disc golf between 2009 to 2015.
- McBeth’s smallest preference gap (0.32) between himself and Wysocki was with respondents who started following professional disc golf between 2021 and 2022.
- This could indicate that when it comes to McBeth and Wysocki, the largest factor influencing who a fan cheers for would be when they started following disc golf. However, a more thorough analysis is needed to truly tease this out.
- Somehow McBeth has become less likable to our newest fans. Is that temporary? Will their feelings about McBeth change over time to be closer to fans who have followed disc golf longer?
Here is one last graph. We asked respondents to rank attributes with respect to their importance when choosing (whether conscious or unconscious) who to root for and against – 1 being least important, 10 being most important. For this graph, I took the average fandom score for the segment of respondents who gave that attribute an 8-10, meaning that this was a very important attribute for them when deciding who to root for.
- The segment that gave McBeth his highest fandom score was: “They are a winner and/or you are in awe of what they are capable of.” That feels very applicable. He also scored really well with people who strongly appreciate an “aesthetically pleasing throwing form.”
- The segment that gave Wysocki his highest fandom score was: “What they were like when you met them in person.” Wysocki is very friendly and accessible to fans, so this is not surprising either. His second-best average fandom score came from respondents that highly value “a connection to where you are from or live now.”
- In general, Wysocki did well with people who value personality-based attributes and McBeth did better with people who valued performance-based attributes.
- That said, McBeth had higher fandom scores for each of these segments.
My thanks to Steve Timko who created the spread table and provided some of the analysis as well as Karl Lamothe and Steve Andrews for their assistance in editing this piece. If you would like to join the team that will be analyzing and writing articles about the 2023 version of this survey, or have feedback or suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep an eye out for more articles to come in this series.