This subject always comes up this time of year with dudes trying to get signed with new companies and trying to get their foot in door to make some shit happen. Which I fully agree with and would personally love to make a career for the time being but that being said from my point of view there are three different levels of sponsorship; Flow, AM, and PRO and yet I find it amazing that within the MTB industry that no one recognizes these levels of sponsorship and everyone is either sponsored or not sponsored. There needs to be some changes to the way MTB teams are run and how it is all divided up.
First off, get rid of the marketing person position that has to deal with the team, I understand that someone needs to do this and It should be someone who RIDES and understands what it is like to ride at the same level as your athletes do. Get a Team manager who is the half way point between the owner and the riders who’s specific job is to deal with the team and their requests, problems, signing new riders ETC. Not some dude who has no idea and is just trying not to go over his/her budget for the year.
When I’ve looked at how MTB industry and how it operates with sponsorship procedures within it will have all the levels of riding I mentioned and the process usually goes like this: Ride your bike and, get to the point were you are confident in your riding to approach a sponsor, not just being able to flip some local sand step up you and your grom friends built but actually become a well rounded rider and be able to show up to a new spot and be able to actually do something besides look sketchy and complain there is no trick jump for you to flip. If you convince the marketing homie to get you on grassroots you will get flowed some free shit or more likely pay cost +10% from a local distributor. At this point you would be considered a flow rider that just gets a deal or the odd hookup.
So you put in your time with the company put out some footage and some results at contests have some solid ground to stand on approach the company in a year or two with some plans to expand and ask for more help either financially or just for more product. At this point you would be considered an AM athlete and this category makes up about 90% of sponsored riders you are NOT A PRO by any means you are merely better than the average Joe and are getting some recognition for it. As an AM you are riding at a level where you can turn heads at contests with some hammers and are generally known within the Industry as a solid rider that can hold his/her own.
After putting in even more time riding dropping some hammers for videos or making some contest podiums the company you ride for will be willing to pay for you to ride your bike and it will become your job. Unfortunately for you there is either not enough money to go around, so only a select few within the MTB industry are actual professional athletes. The company comes to YOU in the interest of them wanting you represent them as an ambassador to the brand.
If you think you are a Professional Mountain Biker please pay special attention to item number 2 below.
of, relating to, or connected with a profession.
“young professional people”
(of a person) engaged in a specified activity as one’s main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.
Now if you do not fit the description in point 2 you ARE NOT A FUCKING PROFESSIONAL there are way to many people walking around claiming this title when they are clearly not. I don’t care if you can do all the same tricks as other PROs but you need to realize that that’s only half the battle of being a professional there is a whole other business side that you are not fulfilling to claim that title. Way to many people gave me shit last year when I won FMBA North American AM champ saying I was sandbagging when I was in the proper fucking category
noun: amateur; plural noun: amateurs
engaging or engaged in without payment; nonprofessional.
“an amateur archaeologist”
a person who engages in a pursuit, esp. a sport, on an unpaid basis.
synonyms:nonprofessional, nonspecialist, layman, layperson;
Get learned on some fucking dictionary definitions and stop being a fucking grom.