In skateboarding now there are people making good money being pros. There is a recent documentary called ‘We Are Skateboarders’ that I watched free on youtube. Overall I enjoyed the premise of the documentary that simply asked this question to a variety of skaters, “What is the soul of skateboarding.” With that question the filmmakers simply let the interviewees talk, and some interesting things come out of it. However, one skater equates some types of sponsorships as selling out, and one should not put making money as a reason to skate. I think it does touch of corporate versus small business, and an issue for some skaters. Some interviewees in the Steve Rocco documentary, ‘The Man Who Souled the World,’ bring up the some topic in a different way. Even though I’ve never been sponsored and never will be I’m going to explain that there should be more money flowing into skating not less, and anyone able to make money through a legal contract should feel no qualms in doing so.
If you look at Baseball, and Basketball the contracts for top players skyrocketed in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. Those sports made huge amounts of money through ticket sales, and television contracts. So the players union negotiated higher pay. The reason for higher pay is to set sports players up for life. Career ending injuries happen regularly, and with higher pay potentially the player and his family will have finances not to struggle after retirement. To me the fame and money that a top player brings into a franchise justifies the pay. Skateboarding is a far stretch from those guys because most skaters are not household names. But career ending injuries are perhaps more prevalent, and setting up riders for life should be a priority of the industry instead of always replacing skaters with brand new and younger talent.
I read somewhere that a lot of the top pros make roughly $300,000 grand a year. For a kid in his late teens or early twenties that’s awesome, but only two or three years of that with an injury is not setting up someone for life. Since most skaters start their career young, I’ll start my fussy math scenario at the age at 22, right after college let’s say someone starts his or her career. And they have to work like a regular person until they are 67 years old. Let’s say he or she averages a pay of $50,000 a year over those 45 years. For that person’s career, he or she earned $2,250,000. Let’s say he or she lives until the ripe age of 92, and is able to live off of $30,000 of retirement benefits and goes through another $750,000. So for a lifetime medium income earnings could be a total of nearly 3 million.
So if people are able to live a frugal middle class lifestyle, in their early twenties if they earned 3 million I’m saying they could be set for life. However a pro skateboarder will travel more, spend more on things like insurance, and might be drawn toward living lavishly. So I’m doubling my amount. A pro skateboarder in my fussy math view should aim for earning 6 million to be set for life. If skaters are able to do that through legal sponsorships more power to them.
I really like the web series, Epic’ly latrd, where a lot of the pro skaters from past and present are interviewed. There are several legends that kept at and did well with the upswing in popularity of the sport. Most of the success stories are the business minded pros that started their own companies, or signed contracts for television. But there also is a lot of crash and burn stories of pros in the middle of everything in the 1980’s and 1990’s who made nothing from skating. A lot of them got other jobs, trades, and careers but to me it’s a shame that some of the heroes of the sport really got cast to the side.
I’m sure that pro skateboarders don’t need my advice, but if they asked I’d say to get enough money to be set up for life, and not just live it up.
(Below is the documentary that got me thinking)