Mike Dowdy – No Filter
“Not many of us are being supportive of each other. Everyone’s afraid to be out shined and worried that we will be forgotten.”
What’s with the change in the vibe on your Insta?
My dad used to say a quote to me when I was a kid that goes, “One hundred years from now it will never matter.” It used to bug me when he would say that to me, but when I think back now he was pretty spot on. It won’t ever really matter what I said or didn’t say or what I posted or didn’t post. All that matters is if I help people feel good about themselves and if I feel good about myself. That’s really all I’m after. I want people to look at me, or my social channels, and feel motivated or inspired, and go out and work like hell to make the life they want for themselves. All the hate and B.S. that comes with social media is all worth it if I can connect with one person and help them feel like feel like they can accomplish something today. I hear a lot of people talk about a “persona” or a “perception” that I’m trying to convey. I literally have a whiteboard in my room and in huge capital letters it reads, “I AM THE KING.” It doesn’t read that because it I’m trying to project a “persona”, it reads that because that’s what I tell myself everyday. I meditate on that. I embrace that. And it doesn’t read that because I want the world to bow down to me and “all hail” me. That’s just a mentality that I work through life with everyday. The real problem is that I can’t convey that it’s okay to feel this way without people trying to reprimand me or bring me down a level. I want people to feel the way I do, I want them to go out, kick ass and take names. So there is no persona. That’s how I’m living it and I do my best to communicate that. I maybe don’t always do it the best way or the right way, but I do try and show that the only one stopping you is you. So in 100 years when none of this really matters, or tomorrow, the only thing that will honestly count is if I tried to help out as many people as possible and if I worked on some goals that made me happy. Another good quote: “I’d rather feel like a million bucks then the two cents people chimed in with.” Write that one down.
Do you feel you don’t get the same amount of respect that other riders get?
I’m not sure if it’s really about respect. I stopped searching for the respect of others a long time ago. Today everyone is looking for other people’s respect to gauge how well they are or aren’t doing. How can you respect anyone else if you don’t respect yourself? I’m more in the mindset that I want to create a strong relationship with myself and if other people want to be a part of that process then I will gladly accept them. But I’m operating more from an internal standpoint, where maybe my self worth isn’t so tied up in how other people view me.
It’s a funny thing about respect though. I was listening to a podcast with Pat Lafontaine about respect the other day. One of his lines was, “You used to be able to sit down and have a conversation with someone, and you could have two totally different viewpoints on the same subject, and both parties would take the time to understand where the other person was coming from, just because respect was in the room. Now, if you disagree with someone’s opinion it’s almost a form of disrespect.” That’s pretty true when you think about it. Everyone has been in this situation at some point or another where you feel you have offended someone with your viewpoint. Everyone is taking everything so personally and constantly looking for other people to affirm that they are right or headed in the right direction. Respect from others is great but it starts with the internal relationship. Search “Finding Mastery” with Michael Gervais on iTunes, Pat Lafontaine Parts 1 and 2, if you want to hear about it.
What would you change about the current contest format?
There is a ton I’d like to change and hopefully soon I will have the chance to. The landscape is in need of something new and never done before, and I hope that I will get the opportunity to help push that. I have some things in the works, so I’m not going to say much about what I would or wouldn’t do, but hopefully I can make some stuff happen.
Do you think companies are scared to adapt to the new generation of riders?
I think that companies are having a harder time finding return on investment in wake. The bottom line is if something makes money, then it makes money. Businesses aren’t prejudice. I don’t think the generation has much to do with it. No one’s going to invest in something that isn’t showing prominent return. Picture this landscape for a second: There is a massive contest scene in wake. There are four or five major events that are huge productions with big prize money. All the athletes have proper time to train for their best riding, and everyone is not spread so thinly (this also gives athletes time to do clinics and get new people involved in the sport). This attracts larger crowds to start turning up. They have some fun and maybe want to spend some money. Well, if people are spending money, companies are going to want a piece of the action. They start to invest, and all of the sudden the companies are making enough money back that they decide to keep investing and now they can throw some cash at the guys who do amazing video and photo work.
But someone might argue, “well, this video generated 30,000 views.” Well that’s great but it more than likely didn’t turn a ton of people into purchasing customers. But if you bring people to a designated location that has production value, you’re more likely to leave a lasting impression, which is more likely going to make that person spend money on whatever he or she needs at the event. So what we are really looking at is that there needs to be a foundation that draws bigger crowds, which will attract bigger sponsors, which will give them bigger ROI, which can then trickle down to be paid to the real artists of the sport who do photo and video. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m not. That’s just what it looks like to me. I don’t think the sport has a generation problem. It has a “making-money-for-investors” problem.
Why do you think things are so stagnant right now with new tricks, progression, video parts, etc?
I think it comes from the inability of those of us directly involved in the sport to help each other and support each other. We are all so worried about getting our own that the sense of “we are in this together” has completely faded. From the companies to the riders, we all just want to tear everyone apart at the first instance we get. Not many of us are being supportive of each other. Everyone’s afraid to be outshined and worried that we will be forgotten. Instead we should start recognizing people who have the ability to lead and to let them, to collaborate on ideas, and help push the sport in a more positive direction that’s healthy for everyone. I also think that a lot of people have their own stagnant, negative thoughts about the sport. Instead of us being grateful for what’s in front of us, we let all that we don’t have change how we think about the sport, and slowly that starts to reflect in the person. When enough people start thinking the same way, then it starts reflecting in the sport. That’s what we’re looking at now, a culmination of negative thoughts of a large group of people and an unstable foundation for growth.
You did a ton of crazy tricks in your 2015 Real Wake video. Do you feel like you were judged fairly by the judges and the public?
I never really thought much of it after it was all said and done. Joey and I were doing our absolute best on both ends and created my best video project yet, even though we didn’t get the results we were hoping for. That’s the thing with contests, whether they are video or live, they are all speculation at the end of the day. A few designated people sit and speculate on which was better and why. So it didn’t really matter that we didn’t medal. Would it have been nice? Of course, and I may be singing a different tune had we medaled. But we didn’t, and at the end of it all we made my best video yet. That’s really all we could do. However I do hope to get the opportunity to film again. I’m thinking I could figure out a way to leave with the gold around my neck.
Do you feel like you’re getting the full support you deserve?
It depends what you mean by support. Financially I’m supported, and I’m supported as a competitor with a great team and processes in place. But I think that with change always comes resistance. People will always resist something new and different because it’s threatening to the way things are done. Even if they are on the fast track to nowhere, people would rather run it all the way into the ground before they would try something new because of fear. I think we all need to take five minutes away from our cell phones and really look at the big picture with what’s happening with our sport. It’s on the fast track going nowhere, and for me I’d rather try something new then to milk this thing dry and walk away in five years, even if it fails. I’m okay with failing. I have done it lots in my short 22-year life. But if you really study the big picture, things are a lot worse off then people seem to be grasping, and if we all just sit around and do nothing we’re all going to be working office jobs in five years. So am I worthy of more support? I don’t think we need to measure the amount of support we are giving to one man, we need to start giving it to everyone all the time. A win for me is a win for everyone and vice versa. When it comes to the sport I only come from a place of love and wanting to see it thriving for everyone. Everything else is a misconception of who I am and what I’m really trying to do. Let’s make wake great again.