If you think you've got a good trick book in the bag and you're in skating for the long haul - you might be wondering how you can progress further and start to see some rewards for your hard work. The route that most gifted skateboarders take to progress to the highest level is known within skateboarding as ‘sponsorship’.
From Sidewalk Basics - Autumn 2013
In the most basic terms if you can get sponsored, it means that a skateboard brand of whatever variety sees enough promise to offer you opportunities to represent their brand.
Sponsorship has many different tiers: at the local level this can mean getting discounted price on equipment and inclusion in local video projects, right through to the very top end of skateboard sponsorship, which can mean pro models, large salaries and travel budgets paid for by these sponsors to push the skater further than would be possible otherwise.
The important thing to remember before you even consider this possibility on a personal level however, is that sponsorship is neither a given, nor the end game of being a skateboarder. Often times those who chase sponsorship too hard are passed over for skaters of equal talent who are easier to work with and more mellow about their sense of entitlement.
Getting sponsored is about way more than just being good at riding a skateboard. Any brand willing to invest in a skater (at whatever level) is looking for an ambassador for their brand and for skateboarding in general and with this comes a great degree of expectation. Whether this means shooting photos for skateboard magazines, entering contests, filming sections, or just being on hand when your sponsor needs you – there is a lot more to this than just getting free stuff.
The traditional route to sponsorship starts at the local shop level. If you’re hungry to take your skateboarding further than simply having fun, then you need to be ready to jump on any opportunity given to you, no matter what.
Film parts for your local shop, enter contests, make sponsor-me tapes and send them to the brands you actually like, (rather than just to anyone who might hook you up) and try to be humble and willing.
Only the top 1% of skateboarders will ever make any money through skateboarding for a living so you need to be realistic about your aspirations too.
Equally, some people chase after sponsorship but then when it actually happens they don’t enjoy the pressure and expectation that comes with it, so bear this in mind.
Getting sponsored can be the greatest reward for years of dedication to skateboarding and can give you opportunities to do all the things you’ve ever dreamed of but it is hard work: make no mistake about that.
Concentrate on having fun first and let the rest follow.