It’s the dream of many skaters – to get skateboard sponsorship and spend the rest of their lives being paid to travel to exotic locations, enter competitions, wear new clothes and have a tonne of fun. The truth is that very few skaters acheieve this level of independence and there are many different levels of skateboard sponsorship.
What is it? It is the act of a skateboard shop, distributor, or company sponsoring a talented skateboarder in order for them to represent and promote their brand or business.
How do i get it? Contrary to popular belief, it is not all about “sponsor-me” video tapes being sent to skate shops or companies. You have to prove to the sponsor that you are a talented skateboarder (and unfortunately videos can be edited to make skaters look a lot better), so shops usually rely on word of mouth from local skateboarders and other skateboarders that ride for their shop that see the potential in a skateboarders talent and style. Distributors and companies rely on skateboarders gaining media coverage and word of mouth from existing team members. Your best bet – just keep skating – and someone will spot you at different parks you ride at, different competitions you enter, different bits of footage you put online, etc.
What do i have to do? Sponsored skateboarders are expected to promote the company they sign with, which can mean – media appearances, competition entries, demonstrations and product usage.
Types of sponsorship
There are four levels of sponsorship which a skateboarder can receive. Below we have listed them in order of reputation:
Shop sponsorship – this is usually a local-level sponsorship and is usually the first level of sponsorship a skateboarder receives in their skateboarding career. Shop sponsorship occurs when a shop sees a local skateboarder with talent, and agrees to sell that skateboarder their merchandise at a reduced price and gives their own shop/brand merchandise at no monetary payment.
Flow sponsorship – is from either a skate company or a distributor. The sponsored skateboarder receives, at no monetary payment, a small amount of merchandise on a semi-regular basis.
Amateur sponsorship – is given by skateboard companies when the company becomes aware of the skateboarders success and progression as a talented skateboarder. The sponsored skateboarder will receive some promotion as a skateboarder and some skateboarding equipment, at no monetary payment, to use and promote their company by popularising their company and the equipment that they manufacture and sell. The sponsored skateboarder will begin to get incentives after a certain period of time i.e. “Get a photo in a magazine and we will give you this”.
Professional sponsorship – is given by skateboard companies to talented skateboarders. When a skateboarder is recognized for their skill and abilities when riding a skateboard and also gains some media attention they will be approached by a company to sign with them as a professional skateboarder. Skateboarders who receive a professional sponsorship will receive a paycheck, funds to get to competitions, and “pro model” (professionally modelled) skateboarding equipment. Pro model skateboarding equipment includes decks, shoes, trucks, wheels, bearings, clothing, etc. that has the professional skateboarder’s name on it, and is usually at least partly designed by the professionally sponsored skateboarder with regards to size, shape, color, graphics, etc. Usually, the first “pro model” equipment that the pro gets is a “pro model” deck, followed by shoes, trucks, wheels, bearings, clothing, etc. The professional skateboarder receives royalties for anything that is sold by their sponsoring company (or companies) that has the professional’s name on it.