On a remote worksite in Maui, a crew of laborers cut through a pile of 2x4s. A table saw and hammers make the soundtrack of the day for the rough blue collar crew, with a new crewmember Hank Gaskell. Just over a year ago Hank was living the lavish lifestyle of a pro surfer, now he sands drywall. In 2009, the American economy destroyed 4.2 million jobs, and like every other sector pro surfing and the action sports community was not immune to the pink slip. Without a major sponsor and a thinning bank account; Hank, who has graced surfing magazine covers did what he needed to do. He put his dreams on hold and stepped into reality.
I recently read an article in Surfer Magazine (July 2010) where the other side of surfing was portrayed through the life of Bruce Irons, and it brought to my mind a problem facing the action sports community, Reality. With the economy in a slump more sponsors have left our community to save money leaving talented athletes with no funding to continue in their success. The author of the article Not Dying Young (Surfer July 2010), Lewis Samuels alludes to the sponsors that have left the famous Bruce Irons. His manager informs him to his surprise that Bruce is on a budget and he has yet to spend past his monthly budget, and that most of Bruce’s money is put away.
The point is, that our action sports athletes hinge everything on winning and sponsors, and if you don’t win you don’t have sponsors, leaving them poor and wondering what to do next. Today’s athletes focus so much on their respective sport they lose perspective on the portion of life that follows their retirement, no matter how long they are in the sport. Education or a trade is useful for everyone and should not be forgotten. You never know when you might need it someday.