WORDS Malachi Greene
For the last 6 years of my life I’ve been involved with downhill skateboarding. For as long as I can remember, I just wanted to be in the thick of it. Maybe one day be a brand manager or something? It has not been a smooth ride. I went from broke with second-hand setups, to a fully paid rider, to black-balled with pretty much zero sponsors, to back to being sponsored again.
I can’t help but wonder how much bullshit I could have avoided had I taken heed of the wisdom below. That said, please don’t take any of this as commandment, but rather, please think of this as experiences shared by a fellow skate-homie.
1. Be self-aware.
Don’t go to events and act like a dumbass. You’re there to represent yourself and your sponsors. No one likes a spaz, a cool-guy, a drunk, or a drugged-up asshole.
2. Being sponsored and being a skater are different.
Do not let the pressures of sponsorship affect you or your love for skating. Skating is yours, and how you skate is you. Don’t go out skating just to get clips and photos—go out to skate for you, because you enjoy skating that much. When you decide you are going to go down the path of being a sponsored skater you need to realize that you are going to be asked to get photos and video regularly. That’s what you signed up for! However, every day does not have to be about stacking clips. You should set aside time for yourself as well and go do carves all day or push mongo around town. Do whatever the fuck you want, and keep it fun! Balance.
3. This industry sucks!
There’s a very real chance you are going to get fucked over in some way, shape, or form. Most likely, by people acting as if they are your friends. Don’t take it to heart. We’re all human and a lot of people are out for themselves. Whatever happens, don’t let it ruin your love for skating. Separate your business side from your skating side. Skating is your passion. Don’t let a bad business deal take that away. Distance yourself from toxic relationships and stay focused on enjoying the pleasures of your skating.
Skate how you want, you’ll last longer. One day it’s stand-ups slides, the next day it’s hands-down. Just be you!
5. Best Interests.
If you feel uncomfortable by what someone is asking you to do, or if you feel like your best interests are not a priority, then move on. Sometimes you get a family out of a sponsor, and sometimes you get people just milking your talents. Skating isn’t about being sponsored anyway. That said, be grateful for quality sponsors and try to do the best you can for them. The relationship goes both ways and if you don’t hold up your end of the bargin, then that’s on you!
6. Just have fun.
At the end of the day you’re skating, so enjoy it. Don’t put unneeded pressure on yourself. You’re already rad, and just because you’re not the “next best thing” in the most recent raw-run video trending on Youtube, it doesn’t mean dick! You’re still unique and are doing what makes you happy.
7. You gotta work for it!
You better be willing to take some heavy slams, sleep on shitty hotel floors, eat shitty food, and be a scrub for a while; or you’re not really earning it. Nothing worth anything gets handed out for free. Also, don’t be bitter about your shitty gear, shitty food, or last-place finish at a race. You gotta start somewhere, and the top will feel that much better once you’ve paid in full to get there. Earn your strips with a smile on your face. Don’t stop working hard after you achieve your original goal. Dig-in and make a new and harder goal and work towards that. There are plenty of people who worked and worked to get on the payroll, get in the videos, get on the team page, and once they did they decided it was kick-back time. WRONG! This is precisely when you really need to step things up and stay charging as long as you are able to. You worked so hard to get to this point, and the next point will take just as much work to achieve. Don’t go and lose it all because you’re just being lazy.
That’s what I have to say to any aspiring sponsored skaters out there. Don’t make the same mistakes I did in the past. Stay hyped on yourself, work hard with those who support you, and don’t let anyone or any thing take your passion for skateboarding away from you. You are skateboarding.