April 11th, 2013 by alliancewakeskate

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The beginnings of Freedom

“For the Love of Wakeskating”

I was going to be nice. After over two years of writing this column, I stepped aside to let other voices be heard. Now after several years, I am writing it again, just once, and I was going to be nice. Nice was how I ended this column and my reason for relinquishing it. No one wants to hear how great everything is, or how silver the lining really is. I wasn’t asked to come back to be nice. So I won’t. Instead I want to talk about the cycle. It’s always the old guys in their infinite wisdom talking about “the cycle of life, man…” and there is a reason for that. They have made it around a time or two and have seen it begin again. So what does this have to do with wakeskating? It’s life, man, it has to do with everything. Shit is getting mystical.

I’ll start with the nice story I wanted to begin my nice article with. The story of a kid finding a wakeboard in his attic at the age of 14 and his life changing forever. How seeing Scott Byerly do a wrapped backside 360 without bindings changed his world again. And how, with the help of people like Scott, Thomas, and many, many others, that kid made a name for himself. All he had to do was be nice, have fun, and ride his wakeskate. I was that kid, and I was part of a cycle I didn’t even know was spinning. As I became more known in our sport, I took more of a proactive role in shaping its direction. I took it upon myself to write this column every month, and it wasn’t nice, and it wasn’t fun. Depending where you were in your cycle, you may or may not have agreed with me. Maybe you wanted to scream out that you were just having fun, but you were just too nice. As the issues rolled past, my edges got rounded and my fingers were tired of typing. The cycle spun on and I found myself where I had begun, just having fun. It was time for me to step aside. Time for me to take a step back and enjoy what I had helped create. Time for me to start a new cycle. The kind that Scott and Thomas and others had been on years before when I was just that fun-loving kid on a wakeskate. Time for me to listen to the new voices in wakeskating. But as I listen, I don’t particularly like all of what I hear.

Wakeskating is, and always has been, fighting a battle on two fronts. One battle is to grow our relatively small, insignificant, yet amazing activity that we all love. The silent battle to show the world how amazing wakeskating is so more of our heroes can be supported, and more of the brands we love can flourish. The other battle is to legitimize the perception of our now growing activity. This battle is louder and more brash. It talks trash and makes noise to try to make a difference. Both battles are equally important and both equally influence each other. But it seems to me that the latter has turned on the former. And this is where it stops being nice.

There are a group of people who are starting to make a living from a sport that has grown large enough to accommodate them to some extent. But they don’t seem willing to embrace the responsibility that comes with that – responsibilities that might not have been as diverse when I was playing an active role in an earlier cycle of our sport. In this current cycle there is a lack of professionalism shown by those who call themselves “professionals.” I have always been a proponent of standing for something and marching to your own beat. But when your beat radiates some sort of ego-driven sense of entitlement, it leaves a bad ring in everyone’s ears. Like the smell of the dead horse that has been beaten again and again. Get over it. Move on and grow up. Grow the sport. None of us are getting rich from this sport. Alienating other participants because they learned to wakeboard without bindings instead of learning to skateboard on the water only makes our sport smaller. Ironically, skateboards don’t work well on the water.

And these battles almost reflect themselves in the boat vs. winch argument. The arguments are seemingly one in the same, and the proponents for each seem to go the same way prospectively. It’s some serious West Side Story shit. “Don’t let the winchers know that you like to ride the boat.” Screw that. I love riding the boat. I always have. It’s one of the best things a wakeskate can do on the water. The board was literally made for it. But I also love winching. In fact, minus one or two people that may be reading this, I have been riding my wakeskate behind a winch longer than any of you. I have always helped support and grow both sides of wakeskating because it is all just that: wakeskating. I could sit here and list the ways, but I don’t need to, or want to. I will say, do not to believe every kid that tells you that back tails, winching drops, and flicked kickflips couldn’t have happened if it were left to us old schoolers – the ones doing 360s and shuv indys. No more beating around the bush.

If you make a living from wakeskating you have inherently sold out, or bought in, or whatever you want to call it. At some point you have had to make a decision that directly influenced your ability to pay the bills, instead of the pure integrity of your “art.” And that goes for everyone, not just riders. Photographers, videographers, everyone. There are very few that I can think of that did not “buy in,” and their careers were short lived and not very publicized. And it goes for all of the people making the most noise today. If you think I might be talking about you, you are probably right.

I was going to be nice. I was going to spin a story of myself at 14 finding a wakeboard and my life changing forever. It was going to be real nice. I was going to talk about 2012 being the best year for wakeskating in the last five, if not ever. Then I decided I was going to try and say something, but I still wanted to be nice. I knew what I wanted to say, but I couldn’t say it and be nice. So I decided to be real. It’s not that often these days that I get the opportunity to write this column, so you think it would be easy. When I wrote it for two years, every issue, the words just flowed. There always seemed to be something to say, and I knew just how I wanted to say it. But it’s different now. Wakeskating is in a different place.

There are two battles being fought right now. The battle to grow our relatively small activity, and the battle to legitimize its perception. Obviously we don’t need to do this for ourselves. We all think our way of riding is legitimate for some reason otherwise we wouldn’t do it. But these reasons are different for everyone. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but that opinion does not entitle you. We are all fighting the same battle, even if your voice is louder. If we want to continue to grow this sport, we need to be cognizant of different reasons for doing it, and of different opinions. The legs of this sport have been built by both battles. The battle for selfish idealized progression, and the sacrifice of adapting those ideals. Continuing to beat that dead horse, and narrow the perception of our sport, will only chop those legs out from under us. I can’t continue sitting idly by, being nice, and allowing this. Lead by example. Love wakeskating.

Words by Aaron Reed

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Byerly keepin’ it classy. Photo: Rodrigo

20 Responses to “Reason: For the Love of Wakeskating”

  1. Jake Ramsdell Says:

    First off, everyone go wakeskating as soon as possible after reading this and have some fun!

    I agree with Aaron, there is no side to pick, if you love winching then promote it, but don’t hate on boat? Wakeskating is what it is. Whether it be behind a boat, jet ski, winch, or cable. Your wakeskating. Nothing more. Nothing less.. different pulls make the opportunity for different obstacles and forms of riding to be enjoyed. Anyone who is to the level of “pro” has spent some serious time being pulled by something other than a winch, and they need to not forget where they came from.

     
  2. John Says:

    Wise words from a wise man who has clearly been through a few “cycles”.

     
  3. Truth Says:

    Great article! Great rider!
    More respect, more riding, less hate…. less jorts :)

     
  4. frye Says:

    “Wakeskating is, and always has been, fighting a battle on two fronts.” “In this current cycle there is a lack of professionalism shown by those who call themselves “professionals.” aaron who are you too decide how a “professional” wakeskater should act. arnt you drunk half the time? “Alienating other participants because they learned to wakeboard without bindings instead of learning to skateboard on the water only makes our sport smaller. Ironically, skateboards don’t work well on the water.” this article doesn’t makes scene and makes wakeskaters look like 12 year old girls. and reed says “I was going to be nice.” but never said anything mean.. if you have a problem wit someone talk to them about it…

     
  5. Brad Says:

    Uh oh, someone is a wittle upset. Wonder who he could be referring to? You seem to know the answer, “frye.” Man up. He wrote this article, not you. You are lucky enough to even have the privilege to respond. Take off your pissy pants. Welcome to the real world.

     
  6. Brad Says:

    It is guys like this “frye” who take the fun out of our activity. STOP HATING! START RIDING! Keep your damn mouth shut and respect those who came before you. By the way, how can you spell shit wrong when this fucking thing has autocorrect? Morons…

     
  7. wakethecape Says:

    “Take off your pissy pants” sounds sort of hateful Brad. As does the entire second half of your last post. Practice what you preach. Also it’s not that big of a deal to “have the privilege to respond” to Aaron Reed. I have looked up to and respected Aaron Reed and his level of wakeskating before I even got on a board, but he’s not a God. This is wakeskating. Also this is America where everyone get’s to respond.

     
  8. water buffalo Says:

    Who has the first and one of the best backside tailslides on video to date? Aaron Reed.
    Go find that video and watch it.

     
  9. Marcus Knox Says:

    Just so we’re clear, the person claiming to be Frye up above certainly isn’t the actual Frye.

     
  10. Rich G Says:

    Big love for this article with a couple of amendments! I believe we should stop talking about wakeboarding and wakeskating and start thinking of a new “pull” or “tow” era of board sport. And i mean ALL board sports! Snowboarding has used winches for years and it all looks sick! Snow cables are popping up now as well. I think we need more crossover (wakeb/s, snow, skate). Would love to see a movie made incorporating all board sports with the only similarity being the “pull”. (any type of pulls good, boat, cable, winch, car, wind, or whatever your capable/balls enough to ride!).

     
  11. Marcus Knox Says:

    “In this current cycle there is a lack of professionalism shown by those who call themselves “professionals.” I have always been a proponent of standing for something and marching to your own beat. But when your beat radiates some sort of ego-driven sense of entitlement, it leaves a bad ring in everyone’s ears.”

    I’m curious to hear who you believe fits this description.

    “Alienating other participants because they learned to wakeboard without bindings instead of learning to skateboard on the water only makes our sport smaller. Ironically, skateboards don’t work well on the water.”

    I’m curious to hear about all of these wakeskaters being alienated because they learned how to wakeboard without bindings instead of how to skateboard on water. I do not think that the opinion of some wakeskaters to prefer winching over boat has caused any boat riding person to stop wakeskating. I do not think that the sport has become smaller because of this opinion. I think it has made the sport far more accessible and realistic. A kid who sees the upcoming Toe Jam winch event may think to himself “Damn, this is sick! If my homies and I get together, we might be able to make one of these winches and ride ourselves!” A kid who sees the upcoming Toe Jam boat event may think to himself “Damn, this is sick! Fuck… I don’t have a $100,000 to afford a boat like this.” If boating was still the main vessel in wakeskating, think of all of the people that wouldn’t be riding today. If the contests were still boat centered, imagine how much smaller it would be than the winch events that have been popularized the last few years.

    I am not against boat riding. I am for winching/jet skis/small boats. I invest my time talking about it because I firmly believe that it is the best way for wakeskating to grow. Keep riding boat. I’ll keep riding it too. Boat riding will not die. However, I will not promote boat riding when I talk about wakeskating, because of its unfeasibility to kids who weren’t born in a family with money.

    “If you make a living from wakeskating you have inherently sold out, or bought in, or whatever you want to call it. At some point you have had to make a decision that directly influenced your ability to pay the bills, instead of the pure integrity of your “art.” And that goes for everyone, not just riders. Photographers, videographers, everyone. There are very few that I can think of that did not “buy in,” and their careers were short lived and not very publicized. And it goes for all of the people making the most noise today. If you think I might be talking about you, you are probably right.”

    Calling every person involved in wakeskating a sellout is helping your argument how? Do you see this as the “professionalism” that you claimed other wakeskaters are lacking?

    I’m not a “pro wakeskater.” I’m a student that does my best to get a set in whenever I can, a guy who shows all his friends the sport and tries to get them into it, a kid who lives for the summer. My opinion doesn’t matter, but seeing this article doesn’t make me excited to wakeskate. It doesn’t make me happy to see a legend of the sport call out the people who are leading it today.

    You’re Aaron Reed. I have looked up to you ever since I started riding at 9 years old. As I type, I look up and see your 2007 pro model hanging on my wall, signed by you. I have serious respect for all you’ve done in wakeskating, but this battle you’re talking about isn’t real in my eyes. We disagree about this issue, as a lot of people do, but the wakeskating population isn’t fighting over it.

    I love wakeskating. Every chance I get to ride makes my day better, no matter what I’m riding behind. I don’t think that because I believe winching will get the sport moving in a better direction than boating, that I can’t get along with wakeskaters who think the opposite. Despite differing opinions, wakeskating is progressing. Last year was the best year wakeskating ever had, and this year will be even better. It was the best year ever, and boat riding had very little to do with it. As I believe boat riding will have very little to contribute this year. If you believe differently that is totally fine, but calling out the people leading the movement that has rocked the wakeskating world in the best way possible over the past few years is a very poor way to show it in my opinion.

    One way or another, I’m still proud to have your wakeskate on my wall.

     
  12. Tex Says:

    Hahahaha. I’m drunk way more than half the time no wonder i don’t make scene.

     
  13. Tads Gonna Be So Pissed Says:

    Tads gonna be so mad when he see’s this…

     
  14. jamie Says:

    The “make scene” reference is making me lol.

    Omg!

     
  15. Brad Says:

    No hatred, just sarcasm. One love!

     
  16. burt Says:

    Not Toejam, nor any of the other wakeskate tour stops are being pulled by a winch. In fact, they’re all being pulled by a devise that many of the riders have talked shit about for MANY years up until the end of last year. That devise also costs almost as much as a new boat…

    I like what you had to say Marcus, but I think you kinda missed the point of Aaron’s Reason. It’s not about boat vs. winch, or winch vs. cable, it’s not about anything vs. anything. It’s about promoting wakeskating as a whole, instead of promoting yourself and talking shit about everyone/everything else.

    E.L.E.

     
  17. alexC Says:

    probably talking about that Leo Labadens or however the f@uck you spell that french short dicks name! what a tool!

     
  18. illtypemoves Says:

    work with the sponsors to promote better people!
    to promote the true athlete artists!

     
  19. Evan Says:

    honestly when it comes down to it, yolo.

     
  20. Ryker T Says:

    What the Fuck are you kids even talking about.
    EVERYONE LOVE EVERYONE
    E.L.E

     

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