Photo: Kurt Hohberger / Texas Toast 2013
Words by Henry White
If you haven’t picked up on it, I have a lot of views on the industry that many don’t like to talk about. My biggest pet peeve is the oppression we have all endured just for loving our sport. Maybe you haven’t experienced the struggle, that’s ok I won’t hold it against you, but there are many out there that will, in fact there are a lot that will. To many riders, BMX isn’t just about what you can do on a bike, it’s about the experiences you’ve had and how you translate that into your riding, aka your “style”. Which can be a beautiful thing, but that’s not what gets me riled up, it’s those who hold themselves over another because they’re not at the same riding level, it’s crap, bullying and not needed. Who cares what tricks you can do, shouldn’t we all just be enjoying ourselves and helping each other progress, after all BMX is just a leisure recreational activity right…or is it?…
INDUSTRY: The process of making products by using machinery and factories
In studying Community Sports Management and Leisure activities I’ve found that our industry is merely a speck, a tiny and insignificant portion of conversation that many of us would throw our arms up in disgust… I tried it, the professor was not happy. Is that the reality though, absolutely not. You see to them, we don’t rank high on their attention scale because there aren’t many scholarly riders out there, nor have we asserted ourselves in the limelight of the world as being a professional alternative to suits and ties. Furthermore, those that have sought a higher education and choose to make money in the industry get heckled or looked down upon because they’ve chosen to pursue or have created an alternative path rather than being an Athlete.
Is this something that that the collective is even aware of? Is it something they even care about for that matter? I’d like to think that they are and do. With the current state of our industry, we’re no longer afforded the pleasure of being blind to it’s status. The manufacturers that keep our sport rolling and long supported our crazy actions, are at a point of near monopoly. Not that they are forcibly pushing out other companies, but their so established it’s become extremely challenging to create a successful and competitive endeavor. Clearly the upside is to their advantage, however this puts a lot of stress on them in the manner of support. They produce a product, we use that product and expect them to sponsor us, in that manner, we the consumers have the advantage.
That isn’t the meat and potatoes of our conversation though, there’s much more to our industry that people are missing the mark on. The only reason these companies are doing as well as they have in recent years is a direct relation to the immediate access of their market. Through the use of social media many companies have thrived when they ordinarily wouldn’t be alive. In a generation that’s grown with social media, we have become accustomed to instant gratification. The benefit to this is that it’s created more jobs, don’t believe me? Lets look at Zack Krejmas, Miles Rogoish, or Christian Rigal, all provide services to various platforms that excel above others, and many see their work, but little credit is given to their many hours of dedication to the production of high quality visual stimulus. I still consider them professional’s, some in a dual athletic combination, others as mere contributors to our industry and our community.
COMMUNITY: A group of people who live in the same area (city, town, or neighborhood)
Another side of our industry that I feel is misrepresented. On a local scale, our industry is represented through groups of riders that typically have the influence of one sponsor or another. Riding in San Diego gave me the pleasure of seeing many communities throughout the county. The biggest industry influence wasn’t even a single company, but a bike shop. East County BMX in Santee sponsored the majority of the Pro-Am riders throughout the county. A true testament to the support of the shop owner, Henry Davis, he keeps all those guys rollin in style.
When it comes to support though, we are quite limited these days. Granted, most cities have begun providing parks for action sports or if you’re lucky you live close to a quality indoor facility, but sponsors are constantly looking for the next up and coming pro athlete. The problem is getting to that skill level. Aside from attending Camp Woodward, which can be quite pricey, participants are left to learning on their own or through the how-to edits on YouTube. Which has certainly created an interesting dynamic to our industry and our communities. There’s always room for improvement though, it just requires innovation.
In the end, it all comes down to dedication and education. If you’re truly vested in the industry, support your local community, help it grow in whatever manner possible. If you want a professional career in the industry, don’t limit yourself to being an athlete, we have plenty, get an education and bring some innovation to the table. There’s too much room for growth in our industry and we can’t be afraid of making an influence, just make sure you’re doing it for the right reason. – Henry White
Thoughts? Ideas to expand on? Let us know in the comments below!