Broke Skateboarders

Thirteen amateurs talk about their role as skateboarding’s future.

Five years ago being an amateur skateboarder was almost an insult. It was as if the company you rode for was saying to you, “Sorry, bro, you aren’t good enough, but maybe one day you’ll be good so we’re gonna keep you around until you get fed up with not getting paid more than 250 bucks a month and go turn pro for Fly By Night Skateboards.” Of course, that wasn’t the intended message, but with so many three-photo pros (the number of published photos required to get a pro-model board) entering the world of professional skating, it might as well have been.

For most amateur skaters, the best deal in town was to turn pro. Think about it, you get more money, you get your name on a board, and you get respect from your friends. But what’s infinitely harder to see when your checking-account statement shows up in the mail looking like an exercise in negative integers is that waiting can be very good. It’s a proven fact that if you spend your time as an amateur, you’ll have a leg up on the competition when you finally get the golden handshake into the pro ranks.

There are examples of exceptional pros who spent very little time as ams, but guys like that are exceptions to the rule. Examples of quality, in-demand pros who spent time as ams abound¿Kerry Getz, Moses Itkonen, Bam Margera, Colin McKay, Guy Mariano, and Andrew Reynolds, to name just a few. Even though these guys didn’t follow some prepackaged recipe to create the perfect pro, they did have the patience to hang tight and wait.

Today, skateboarding is in an exponentially better situation than it was a half decade ago. Being an “amateur” is no longer tantamount to being a “really poor person,” it actually means something now. It is, by definition, an apprenticeship¿learning by practical experience under skilled workers a trade, art, or calling. So, with this being the Amateur Issue and all, we decided to do some short interviews with a thirteen future superstars¿guys who are earning their future, one tiny paycheck at a time.¿Joel Patterson