Rob Gracie wants athletes to get their fair share.
He’s had the idea for about seven years, but only now does Rob Gracie feel the climate’s ripe to launch his new organization. Along with with his colleague Angie Larson, the veteran snowboard photographer feels that sports like snowboarding and skateboarding have permeated the mainstream, and that athletes are being taken advantage of by television networks, advertising agencies, and the countless other corporate interests using them to sell products. Gracie believes the athletes are getting too little, and risking too much.
Not only does he want them to get paid reasonably, but they should have health insurance, too.
His solution is called Guild Action Sports, an organization whose membership he hopes will comprise the biggest names in individualist sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, and the like; Gracie hopes GAS will be able to negotiate for the group as a whole. As he explains it, GAS is something in between the Screen Actors’ Guild and the NFL Players’ Association, but modernized to suit the needs of these sports’ creative athletes. GAS will provide legal services, health insurance, establish pension plans, and offer a host of other benefits designed with its membership in mind. “It’s not a labor union, and it’s not an association,” he says. “It’s a collective of creative people.”
Gracie hopes to eventually include photographers, designers, art directors, and other artistic professionals who work within the action-sports world, and establish GAS as a source for the best athletes and creative minds in these sports. Admission to GAS will be limited to recognized professionals in each sport or industry to lend credibility to members, and an online database will direct outside parties to the individuals they need¿or to those individuals’ representatives. “It’s not a sports agency,” says Gracie. “It doesn’t interfere with the fact that many athletes have representation. Agents I’ve spoken to are actually excited about this.”
GAS, he says, will only negotiate for the group as a whole¿deals with individual athletes or artists would be handled by themselves or their own representatives. “I understand that little companies within sports like skateboarding can’t afford the big bucks,” says Gracie. “We’re more concerned about the TV networks that are making millions off these athletes.”
Gracie is still negotiating with key individuals who will help formally launch GAS, and details about the guild were scarce at press time. For more information, log on to the GAS Web site at: www.guildactionsports.com. Or e-mail Gracie at: SportsGuild@aol.com.