Amateur Skaters being Paid Like Pros

Skateboarding has changed over the years and while I’m still in my 20s, I’ve seen a great deal of changes in my lifetime alone. One of those changes is the extreme popularity of skateboarding as a serious, competitive sport and activity now. We are seeing more pros than ever before and more people wanting to go pro. There is also more business which means more opportunity in the business for people to get paid doing what they love.

But in all of these changes, we are also seeing an odd trend. Many amateurs are now making the money and benefits of the pros, leaving some to wonder what “pro” really means anymore. An article on ESPN “Professional Amateur” brings up this issue. The author Keith Hamm says, “Many of today’s top amateur skaters are also living the life. The line between am and pro is thinner than ever.”

He makes a good point and gives us some great examples of this theory in action such as Foundation skateboards amateur Nick Merlino and Chocolate’s Raven Tershy. Some of these amateur skaters are raking in some serious cash and perks for their efforts. Merlino scored 5th place at the Maloof Money Cup back in June and took home $7,000. That’s quite a purse for an amateur win.

So with amateur skaters getting paid like the pros, where is line of distinction drawn between the two? Hamm says it’s more of a grey area and that the line is getting harder to define. Merlino on the other hand, says it’s black and white and explains that while he’s allowed to enter pro events, he does not have a board and other perks.

Experts will continue to differ on what distinguishes one from the other. You might get a different answer with each person you ask, actually. So what does this mean to the skater community? It doesn’t really mean a whole lot at all unless you are looking to get sponsored or possibly go pro yourself.

If you are looking to get a sponsor and go pro or am status, you will want to be sure to read all the fine print in your contracts; ask any and all questions about your pay, perks and benefits and seek the help and advice of a professional if needed to ensure you understand the relationship between you and your sponsor.

For those of us who are just fans, we may be seeing some new faces making bigger bucks on the skateboarding scene. Is it possible it might become even more difficult to tell the difference between pro and amateur status? And does it really matter to those of us watching from home?