The Death Of The Pro Spotlight?

Pro Spotlights are the product of lengthy, hard-fought battles against the weather, the police, the ridiculously jam-packed schedule of skate-contest organizers, and, of course, gravity. Because they require thought, patience, consistency, and personality, they aren’t meant for every pro with his or her name on a board. But when a Spotlight’s done correctly and the skater has bled and sacrificed for enough months, the product is often personal and permanent.

To put it in the words of TransWorld photographer Skin Phillips, “Your Pro Spotlight can pretty much make or break you.” Skin’s worked on enough of them to know how seriously scrutinized these twelve- to seventeen-page features are, not only by readers of the magazine, but also by the industry. As a magazine, Pro Spotlights are the most valuable tool we have to promote skateboarding as we see it¿not necessarily a competition-based, TV-friendly “sport,” but rather as an innovative, technical, progressive, individualistic way to live one’s life.

With all that said, you may have noticed that this is our third consecutive issue without a Pro Spotlight. Our last one¿Bam Margera’s in the November 2000 issue¿now seems like a faint summer memory. Arto’s fifteen-page Good Stuff probably could have been a Pro Spotlight, but a solid interview never materialized, and there was a general feeling that Arto didn’t want a Spotlight at the time.

Why not? Has the Pro Spotlight died? Or with all the monstrous tours, competitions, and television programs to be filmed, has skateboarding simply traded the Pro Spotlight for a seat on the Tony Hawk Tour or an invitation to the X-Games?

Skateboarding has entered a realm of mainstream legitimacy it’s never experienced before, and the entry fee to this “next level” is a hefty one. It requires the focused attention and “free time” of every skater who wishes to be in the mix. The chunks of themselves that in the past would have gone to their Spotlights now go to MTV and ESPN, which can promise them something a measly paper magazine can’t¿fame outside of the realm of skateboarding.

This issue of TransWorld is a prime example of skateboarding’s current state of being. It contains eight (yes, eight) tour stories and zero Pro Spotlights. For the record, we don’t think this is a bad thing¿we know skateboarding’s recent boom has benefited us as well as anyone, but we sincerely hope that the institution of the Pro Spotlight stays a viable and respected one.

The reality is, skateboarding isn’t the property of big corporations, city councils, the PTA, or television networks. Skateboarding belongs to skateboarders, and we sincerely hope it stays that way.¿Joel