Below you will find a lot of words. Too many for the Internet in fact. I don’t blame you if you don’t want to read them all, or even some of them for that matter. But please enjoy this gallery of some of my favorite wakeskate shots from the past six or so years.
It’s over. I’m moving on. But first, I have a few things I want to get off of my chest.
Over the past six years, wakeskating has changed my life, introduced me to some of the best people I’ve ever known, and taken me to some amazing places. It has also caused me much stress, and made me cry more times than I like to admit. Though I never made the move to Orlando (sorry, I like mountains and snow too much) I definitely got to watch first hand the growth of the sport. I like to think I may have even had something to do with it, thanks to the few good years I had running Alliance Wakeskate, as well as the sheer amount of photos, videos and words I’ve put out into the world since then.
Unfortunately a few years ago, the economy tanked, and wakeskating suffered just like everything else in the country. And while in 2007, companies (including Alliance) had extra money to throw at the sport and help grow things more quickly, these days everyone has had to tighten the belt. For me, that meant adding the hefty responsibility of covering wakeboarding online for Alliance as well, and being only one human being, I was no longer able to give wakeskating my full attention. Sadly, Alliance hasn’t has a dedicated wakeskate editor in nearly two years.
But there is good news. In the glory days of Alliance Wakeskate, a good post or video might get 1000 views over its Internet lifespan (approximately one week.) Now a video such this one, gets more like 5,000 views, and is watched by the people most likely to actually try wakeskating – WAKEBOARDERS! Before, few of them ever made it to the wakeskate sub domain. So while yes, it may seem like we scaled back the coverage some, the changes have actually done way more good than harm to the sport.
That said, over the past years, I think I’ve learned a thing or two, so I wanted to offer some parting advice.
To the pros—
You lucky bastards — you get “paid” to wakeskate! And hats off to you: The level of riding these days is absolutely incredible – I remember sitting at a winch spot waiting hours for someone to land a shuv. Now it takes a couple tries for someone to land a 3 flip. But you also get paid to sell products and promote the sport, and being good at the activity is only part of that. Wakeskating is still tiny, and the only way it will grow is with real ambassadors who appreciate their fans, and work with the media. Believe it or not, as writers/photographers/videographers, we’re here mostly to help promote you, so jump at the opportunity to work with us, even if you personally don’t think we care or do a good job. Matt Staker said it best, “You’re a wakeskater — you should be at the dock with a smile on your face saying ‘thank you for filming me!’” This means not acting like it’s an inconvenience. Together we can make it so that “pro wakeskaters,” don’t have to also have a day job.
To the photographers–
You are just as important as the pros for promoting the sport of wakeskating. You help illustrate the sport and people love pictures. Don’t let your ego or terrible attitude get in the way of that actually happening. Don’t be lazy – if you take a photo, submit it right away. Don’t let stuff rot on your harddrive under the guise of “saving it for print.” These days, there are not very many print pages, and while Alliance is still happy to run wakeskate photos (more than I can say for a certain other mag) there’s only so much room. So be realistic. If you’re not getting a response, it’s because it’s just not good enough. If you think the “Snaps” we run suck, send something better, such as one of those shots you’re “saving.” And if we say no, get over it, and go take something better.
To the filmers –
Video is what drives the Internet, and the Internet is a very powerful thing these days. If you want to help the sport of wakeskating, put it out there, and ask us to embed it. If it’s good, or sometimes even just a fun-to-watch edit, we’ll post it and you’ll get views. Glorious views! If you want to make money filming though, figure out something other than wakeskating to shoot, at least for right now.
To the industry as a whole –
Wakeskating isn’t skateboarding. And it’s never going to be skateboarding, no matter how much you try to separate it from its wakeboarding roots. If you want to skateboard, get one. It’s a whole lot cheaper and you don’t need water or a motorized towing device to do it. What wakeskating is, is really, really fun. The way we grow the industry is to show people that. Joe Nobody from the Midwest doesn’t care about how legit wakeskating is, he just wants something to do when it’s 95 degrees. Let’s get him on a wakeskate! Winching is amazing, but incredibly labor intensive — it doesn’t have mainstream appeal. So let’s use it to pique people’s interests, so that they buy a wakeskate and head to the lake or the local cable park to try it out. Simple as that.
Remember: The more people doing different stuff, the faster wakeskating will grow. Get out there and do what you think is fun, and then share it with the world. Post it on your Facebook and tell your friends. Just remember, if we all work together, we can grow wakeskating a lot faster than if we keep having these ego-driven inner struggles of what’s good for the sport and what’s not.
My (and Alliance’s) goal from day 1 has always to help grow the sport of wakeskating. I got into it because guys like Thomas Horrell, Danny Hampson and Aaron Reed were fun to hang out with and made me want to go ride. No, I’ve never been in a position to wakeskate daily, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. And for those of you who assume I (or any one else in the media for that matter) are in it for the money, here’s a reality check: The money isn’t that good, and I’ve always had a second job to make ends meet, because as an adult, I have bills to pay.
For those of you who made it through all those words, and are about to hit to comment button to bitch about how bad they were for the sport, good news. As I said in the very first line of this letter, I’m moving on to snowier pastures. If you enjoy my biting wit and sarcasm, they’ll be plenty of it for you at Yobeat.com. If not, you don’t have to worry about me ever again. If you don’t approve of my replacement, the answer is simple: Don’t talk shit, get out there and do something better.
PS: Hey Collin, don’t think this means I’m not coming to ride behind the Whaler anymore! I’ll see you as soon as summer starts again.