Life is about decisions and fine lines. As a sponsored athlete in an “Action Sport” (god I hate that term) you have some decisions to make. Assuming you are at an amateur or professional level, you will be faced with many decisions in reference to your “career.” I’m a nobody (though I’m a nobody that people actually seem to listen to), but here’s my opinion on some questions you may come across. My credibility? Oh I’m a 33 year old father of two with a super hot wife and a day job….and I’m huge in Japan. If that doesn’t do it for you then why the hell have you even been reading this thing? Anyway here it is.
1.Should I move to a place that could help my career?
YES.…more or less. Look there are exceptions I know. And yes it might give you more character to grow up skating in New England, surfing in Cocoa Beach, or Snowboarding in Michigan. However, the point of this whole thing is to get noticed. It’s no secret that you’ll get noticed easier when you’re near the leaders in your industry. I know that LA is full of Kooks, Salt Lake bars close at 1:00, and locals at Haleiwa aren’t always the most friendly. That shit can be worked out though. Maybe some of those places don’t have the character of your hometown, but life is long, and you can always head back once you’ve accomplished what you left for. So if you can make it happen relatively comfortably, then I say yes….make the move…at least for a while. Or don’t. Just freeze your balls off in North Dakota I don’t give a damn.
photo courtesy of warpedmelody.tumblr.com
2. Should I quit school?
NO. I know I know you think you’re peaking at 15 years old and need to drop everything to get in a van, get footie, and travel the world. It is tempting. The reality of it is though that your schooling can continue in conjunction with your career. Many ex athletes end up with little education, some shitty habits, and a half ass job in the industry. Believe me that you will be better served to have a couple degrees and a level head after your athletic career ends. If you’re smart enough to hire a CPA to help manage your earnings during this time also, you’ll come out with a chunk of change, a few damaged body parts, and at 30 years old, be ready to continue with a new chapter. Or whatever quit school, blaze up, and don’t wear a rubber. Natural Selection’s a bitch.
photo courtesy of 1957timecapsule.wordpress.com
3. Should I take that corporate sponsorship?
MAYBE? A friend of mine (BurritosandSnow) once said that it’s OK to make money, just be careful how you make it. Look carefully at who you choose to represent. I know that not everyone can skate for Rick Howard or Jim Thiebaud, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok to ride for El Pollo Loco Skates….I do love their chicken though. Does riding for Burton mean your not core? Do you have to paddle out with Mitch’s Fins to be underground? That’s for you to decide ultimately. I would just say be careful. There are large companies (Nike/Adidas/Bonfire/Quiksilver/Etc.) that have hired good people with history in the industry. Many of these guys have given them the R&D knowledge, and cultural credibility to maybe make it worth your while. Gonz skates for Adidas, Joel Tudor and Al Knost hang heels for Vans. Like I said just make sure who you represent is actually good for the sport that you love. Or whatever. Shred for slim jim and tear into the spice you turd.
photo courtesy of skateandannoy.com
Overall I say go with your heart, and don’t be afraid to take a few risks along the way. Be smart, don’t party too damn much, and work work work. Blue collar work ethic can put you at the next level. Good luck and don’t sacrifice who you are for what you do. Or sell out as soon as possible, pound some Mt. Dew, and be hated by the people that helped you get there.