What are the odds of getting paid to snowboard (or skateboard)? Why do the pros get paid? To put it in a very unromantic way, marketing is the answer. A professional skateboarder or snowboarder gets paid because he or she is a marketing tool to sell a product. And the media we consume is how this marketing is justified. So, how is media changing and are the odds of becoming a pro increasing or decreasing right now?
In 2016, we now live in a complex world that exposes us to media of all shapes and screen sizes. Unsurprisingly, global cell phone media consumption is on the rise, and snow and skate media is no exception to this rule. There are now close to 1 billion people that use Facebook on their mobile device every single day. You can pick up your phone and get a buffet of content all served up to you before you’ve brushed your teeth in the morning. Metroskateboarding, shralpin and ragdollsnowboarding are examples of video accounts that serve up bite sized videos of mind bending tricks by mostly unknown skateboarders and snowboarders. Manualmagazine do a pretty bloody good job too! All of it is free, and the clips just keep on coming. There seems to be no end in sight as to how technically crazy, how casual, how wacky or how many body varials one can do in a run. You can gather so much face melting action on Instagram that the act of searching for content is now almost a foreign concept; I barely even type in a URL address to find snow or skate content anymore.
Basically, everything seems to be fed to us via social media or a news app these days. This has led me to ask myself a few probing questions. Is this weird? Is this the beginning of the end of URLs as we know them? Isn’t this the equivalent of only ever eating what’s in the pantry? Yes it is. But the way the internet and its algorithms now work is that it pretty much means you have a butler selecting what you like and popping it in the pantry for you. He keeps getting to know your tastes and he never stops topping it up! A URL visit is the equivalent of going out for a meal.
Having a constant supply of user submitted content at your fingertips is an incredibly convenient way for the end user—you and me—to get the latest news, but is it damaging to the snow and skate community or is it inspiring? It may be a bit of both, but one thing’s for sure: it’s just the start of how we’ll see the way we view media change. What we knew a year ago is now ancient history and what the future holds is something we can’t even imagine right now.
So, what are the odds of being paid to be a professional snowboarder? Incredibly slim. But they’ve always been incredibly slim. In New Zealand it’s maybe 10 in four million. If I’d ever been told that there was a 10 in four million chance of being paid to snowboard (albeit not enough to solely rely on) and that I’d become one of these few, I would have laughed hysterically and then probably cried tears of joy. The odds have always been slim, but the more cool shit you try, the better the odds become. Right now, the odds are no different, BUT, more than any other time in snowboarding’s history, the odds of that weird trick you’ve been working on being seen by millions of people from around the world are better than ever before. Now go get it.
Text by Nick Hyne
Illustration by Tom McGuinness
Published in Manual #62