Using Social Media to Estimate the Size and Demographic Characteristics of Hard-to-Reach Sport Communities: The Case of Disc Golf

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Some measures suggest that disc golf is a fast-growing sport and recreational activity that provides notable physical and social benefits. However, little is known about those who play. Like many new and nonnormative sport communities, the population of disc golfers is small, geographically dispersed, and therefore hard to study. This article offers a novel method for studying disc golfers and other hard-to-reach sport and leisure communities. Drawing on a random sample of 2,551 Facebook profiles, it provides new evidence about the size and characteristics of the organized disc-golfer population. The study shows how social variables including gender, race, geography, age, education, and group size predict disc-golf-related behaviors on Facebook. It also reveals that disc-golf-related activities on social media are positively correlated with actual disc-golf play. Guidance for future research on emerging sport communities is offered.

The author is with the Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.

Address correspondence to Joshua.woods@mail.wvu.edu.
International Journal of Sport Communication

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