Reason column from the August/September issue of Alliance
The Bob Effect
by Danny Hampson
Bob + Danny = 2 Rays of Beaming Sunshine Photos: Collin Harrington
It is human nature to constantly question the world in which we live and the paths we take as card-carrying members of the human experience. As anyone that knows me can attest I am almost constantly trying to figure out what is going on with my life and on a clear night can find me staring at the stars wondering why Aaron and I have yet to build our cable park on the moon. When the big questions of life become too overwhelming I try to bring my focus back to something that I have some level of control over: my career in the wake industry. I bounce my questions off the starlight patiently waiting for answers that never come:
What does it mean to be a paid watersports athlete?
What is it that I am really supposed to do for the companies that support me?
What do I want to be remembered for?
Why am I lucky enough to do this every day?
How do I give back to the industry that has given me so much?
While the stars have never been much help guiding me to some type of conclusion on what my professional life means, one person has given me a helpful perspective and his name is Bob Soven.
Early this Spring the Liquid Force/Obscura Free For All kicked off in Ft. Myers, Florida at the Revolution Cable Park (for those unfamiliar with the Free For All series it is basically a day the LF/Obscura teams go to a cable and assist everyone with the free cable riding that is offered that day). It was the first event of the season and I was anxious for the upcoming months. I was excited for things to start but felt like I needed to change certain aspects of my attitude to stay refreshed for the grueling summer schedule. The refreshment I needed came in the shape of a red headed beast laughing on the starting dock. Bob Soven was helping each rider that needed help off the dock and having conversations with every single person in line. As the event went on I joined Bob on the dock to get a closer look at how he was bringing joy to each person he interacted with and making their experience that day something far more special than just hitting a pipe dragon or taking their first turn. Bob had changed the entire event because of his eagerness to share his gift and love of wake and put a buzz in the air through his selflessness and willingness to give a piece of himself to everyone.
As the summer has gone on I have had the opportunity to go to countless more Free For Alls and other events with Bob and against the odds of inevitably getting burned out he has continued with the same energy and enthusiasm he had in Ft. Myers months ago. What has really amazed me at watching Bob this summer is not the fact that he works so hard but the fact that it comes so effortlessly. We all know the facts of his career; the television show, the fame, the wake upbringing, the talent, and we all know that Bob has become a big enough a part of the wake industry and arguably pop culture that he could sit back and collect checks for years not doing anything more than drinking beers on a porch and showing up to a couple events. This is what makes Bob so special and inspiring to me. Instead of capitalizing on his notoriety for selfish reasons he has extorted it into the greater good of the sport and to making his fans happy.
Bob taking the mic to announce Danny as the winner of the Mr. BROstock award
Mr. BROstock 2013
I know there are people who have questioned some of the decisions Bob has made this season in respect to what events to attend and what direction to take his career in. He isn’t riding the tour, he isn’t training for the boat events, he isn’t doing the typical things that a “pro” rider of his caliber is known for doing. It takes courage to go in a different direction and Bob has made a stand that he is going to pursue the riding and interactions that interest him, which to me is a huge step for the whole industry. One of my favorite quotes reads, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I feel Bob is being the change he wants to see in wakeboarding. Hopefully this will inspire others to do the same and we can change the face of what the blueprint is for professional riding.
So what has this Bob-given perspective answered for my star-crossed questions? Well, from watching what Bob has done this summer I think maybe part of the job of being a waker is to give people memories. Moments where they are taken away from the day-to-day and given the opportunity to be a part of something bigger and something they will never forget. This is what sells products and fuels the machine we are all so lucky to be a part of. One thing I can guarantee is that a young kid being helped off the dock for his first set of cable riding by Bob Soven is going to remember that for way longer than seeing a results posting on Facebook of Bob winning a PWT stop. Bob is the people’s champ and I am pumped to watch what he has in store for us in the years to come.
Hands on the handle hearts in the sky.