Jim Gray on Pro Skateboarding

This article was written by Jim Gray in response to a thread on alt.skate-board about the disturbing trends in professional skateboarding. This article is from the mid 1990s

Click here for Dave Rebus's response to this article.

Disturbing trends in pro skateboarding

The skateboard industry wants every kid to think that pro skateboarding is a potential way out for real life work and a way to make mega bucks. The reality is that most pro skaters make less than your average receptionist in an office and could make more money waiting on tables. That is caused by many reasons, one being that we have lead so many people down this path that there are around 100 skateboard brands promoting 300+ pro models for many pro's that should have never been. Unfortunately the one who pays for this is the pro skater who does deserve to make a fortune, but has been forced to split it up with a bunch of guys who are doing nothing for skateboarding but taking from those who really deserve it. It also does not help that the skateboard industry spends more time trying to promote its pro's, good or not, than it does to promote its sport or activity. It the industry worked to make skateboarding available to more people, then they would sell more skateboards and be able to pay pro's more.

The other sad side is after we have made someone think that they can be a pro without them thinking they have to prove their way through competition and so on and so forth, we have a whole generation of skaters who keep skating not for the fun of it, but just trying to become pro. What ends up happening to many, most of which never had the talent to be a pro, is that they spend a few years extra of their life trying to make pro skating their goal before they give it up. Then they end up hating skateboading because they are five years behind everyone else their age in getting a real world job and making money because while others were out learning and protecting their future, these guys were skating and not learning anything for the future. Then they usually stop skating all together because long ago they forgot to skate just for fun, and had turned it in into an obsession.

Skaters need to realize that most people will never be a pro and that how much fun you have skateboarding is related more to how much you enjoy the activity of rolling around at high speeds and doing tricks than it is on whether or not you get paid to do it.

The most successful pro's have always been the ones who would have done it for fun whether or not they got paid for it. I used to get paid to skate, and I always thought it was pretty funny. I never lived off skateboarding and never expected to until I actually decided to manufacture and sell skateboards. I always had another job and was trying to work towards my future. I knew that no one was going to just give it to me. Unfurtunately the skate industry in a pathetic attempt to promote its own brands has made many kids think they can live off skateboarding forever. The most fun I have ever had on a skateboard had nothing to do with getting paid, and was only about skating a rad spot or a good session with cool people.

Skate for fun, and skate when you are 50 years old if you still like it, but give up on the unrealistic dream of having skateboarding be your life. It should be the best part of your life, but not your whole life, otherwise you miss out on all the rad things this world has to offer by forgetting that anything else exists.

On the matter of age, the reality is that it is best for a company to start promoting someone who is incredibly talented when they are very young and help them to achieve the status as they grow older to help you sell skateboards as well as have a solid pro career. Most majorly successful long term pro skaters throughout the last 15 years turned pro before they were sixteen. Only in the last few years have the pro's started getting older and that was mostly because there was no new young kids getting involved at the time. That will change alot in the next few years as the new generation of kids starts to get invovled.

gotta go.

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DansWORLD Skateboarding - Dan Dunham (dan@cps.msu.edu)