The photo above is one of my all-time favorites featuring Hucker sessioning the box at a demo in the parking lot of a strip club in Colorado with a few friends.
If you are any kind of fan of BMX you have more than likely heard the news about the DC BMX program getting dropped today. It came as a surprise to many people and I am sure caught the riders completely off guard. They were all at a point where they had been working on there 2013 contracts and making them official. Well, obviously that didn’t work out and here we are…
I wanted to take the time and write a little bit about this as opposed to taking the obvious route of “DC dropped BMX, fuck them.” That’s too easy. Basically I wanted to give a little back story to the history I know of the current DC BMX team. I had met Mike Aland who is/was the current team manager back in 2009 in North Carolina at Mirra’s “Animal House” contest, which was a rad contest by the way. We talked
for a while after the contest at the airport before we both headed back West. Mike had just been brought aboard as the team manager and kind of thrown into the mix without much experience as a BMX or a known name in the BMX industry. He had one thing going for him though and that was his love for BMX and his dedication to keeping the BMX team alive. Sure, he doesn’t have deep roots in the actual industry but that doesn’t mean that you can’t fully back it and want to support it.
Mike did exactly that. He did everything he could for the BMX side of things. Even after that contest he was worried about spending too much money on it while there was talk of dropping the team. He always did things big and did his best to take care of the actual riders. He made sure that they got paid, and got paid well. He made sure ever trip was dialed and that no expense was spared in the name of treating the riders right. And, in my opinion the way they should be treated. Every time a rider goes out to film, shoot photos, ride in a contest or whatever they put their body and futures on the line. It’s not crazy to think that they should be able to stay in nice hotels and eat good meals while they are on a team trip or working on a project for DC. Either way, Mike did what he could to make them feel like actually professionals that get paid well to do their jobs. I experienced it first-hand when I went on one of the “Roughin’ it” tours with Mike and the team. We stayed in super nice hotels and ate good meals the entire trip. Mike did his best at making sure the riders had their say, and since he doesn’t really have that BMX history he was just trusting the riders and understood that they know what is best. After all, they are the ones who do the riding. They are the ones who are out filming and putting themselves on the line at contests.
The other thing I wanted to talk about is the team. Yes this sucks for every single rider and as a BMX’er it kind of hits home and bums me out that a company can just say fuck it, lets cut the entire program. Every rider put in work, repped DC pretty hard and did what they could for the company. Either way it doesn’t matter at this point. All I know is that every single rider on the pro team just lost a pretty hefty paycheck every month. To say the least, DC definitely has made some people upset and the fact that they did it without warning is not the best move on their part.
With that said, I wanted to talk a bit about why that happened. People can blame the “corporate white-collar fucks” at the top of the food chain or whoever else they want but the fact is, it all came down to money. Plain and simple, it’s all about the bottom line. Regardless of what the team did, how hard they worked and how much they tried to support DC the BMX program just wasn’t making the money the
“number-crunchers” wanted to see. When you have a company like DC with multiple programs like skate and BMX for example they can’t help but compare them and see how much each one is bringing in. If DC can afford the best skateboarders in the world I will tell you straight up that it had nothing to do with DC not having enough money to support a BMX program. It has to do with the fact that the BMX program itself was just not able to generate the type of money they were hoping. When the numbers were reviewed it just didn’t make sense to them financially to keep it afloat. Although it seems really difficult to actually track all of the BMX specific sales but trust me, they have ways to figure it out. It’s an unfortunate situation and is a hard-hit for the BMX industry. Hopefully this decision won’t influence any other big companies to take the same route.
On the bright side, and what everyone often forgets in situations like these, is the fact that regardless of them dropping the BMX program out of the sky with no warning they still believed in BMX enough to give it a chance. They actually kept it going for a long time and gave a lot back to BMX. They paid all of the pro riders good money, they went on some pretty amazing trips, they always had tons of shoes
whenever they needed them, They paid BMX specific photographers (like myself) to shoot ads for print magazines, they paid BMX specific videographers to film edits, they sponsored and put on events and much more. Although this is a huge blow
to the team and to BMX as an industry, it’s not the end of the world. BMX will still be here, and still be going as strong as it can. Also, this is a good time to remind everyone that getting paid any amount of money to ride a BMX bike is a pretty amazing thing. Don’t take any opportunities that come your way for granted and always remember that support from companies will come and go but the true BMX riders are in it for life regardless and I am glad to be part of that. – Jeremy Pavia