I read a really long article earlier about “wanting to be sponsored” on an American BMX website. Even though they got some awesome people to comment on the matter, they failed to really nail down the truth about being sponsored. So here you go kids, the gloves are off…
How to get sponsored
This is pretty straight forward, but is a notoriously tough nut to crack. You need to pinpoint an industry guy, the higher up the food chain the better, and then massage that ego so hard you have new frames coming out of your ears every month. A conversation may go like this:
“Hey, you were sick in the 90’s bro… we need to hit some coping soon for a session, I still run V Monsters.” Consider your foot firmly in the door at this stage.
It’s a myth that you have to be good at riding to be sponsored. Yeah, you do need the basics and perhaps a really hot invert, but on the whole you can wing it on good looks, charm and how many hotel rooms you can destroy on a single road trip. Usually, the best riders are almost always really ugly, if you have the chiselled features of a boy band member, and can do whips, get your Parker pen ready for that contract, because you’re about to hit the big time.
Fathead just got back from three weeks in Cali, working on the second version of his signature S&M bars. For the past five years this guy has been the most annoying man on the planet, then all of a sudden he’s in a hot tub with the Mad Dog. What, you think this is because he has skills on a bike, that this happened? Wrong, Fathead breaks every rule in the book, he’s loved to be hated. He’s BMX to the core, and this means sales. I once watched Fathead flirt so hard with a scooter milf, she bought his bars for her son, who DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A BMX….
4. Get wasted with a guy that owns a brandhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xl4WN4La18
This harks back to phase one of being sponsored. But is adapted slightly to consider substance abuse with a brand owner. If you can take someone of influence on a psychedelic tour of your BMX and personal life, consider this a stepping stone to a PRO contract. Humans by their very nature can be easily influenced, never be afraid to enhance that with potent chemicals to get what you want.
If all else fails, you suck at riding and look like a pig, then you need to hit the “sponsor me” panic button. This means being a social network groomer of PRO’s and industry leaders. By adding the 200 or so most influential people in the game, and being on their case 24/7 via Instagram/Twitter and Facebook you can almost frustrate these guys into giving you a frame. Then, you simply use your own social network to claim you’re on the team. “Just got this new frame from **** #thanks #hookup #dream #bmx #sponsored #thinkso #yolo #bmxboy #pro #proteam”
What to expect when you’re a sponsored “PRO” rider
Given how many “PRO’s” there are, and how many brands and companies exist in BMX, you’d be forgiven for thinking that someone who gets free parts is also making enough money to live. Think again, they don’t! Far from it, most “PRO’s” work a regular job, if they’re lucky it’ll be in BMX, but on the whole it isn’t. The few who are at the very top of their game, are actual PRO’s, BMX riding is their profession and it’s how they pay the bills. Unless you’re about to compete with Garrett Reynolds for best video section, or the longevity of the likes of Van Homan or Corey Martinez, I suggest you get your CV ready for the call centre. To get to the realms of paying the bills through BMX, you can’t be a mere mortal I’m afraid.
Pretty simple request for a strapping young lad who’s in the prime of his life, and doing whatever the fuck he wants! But when you’re on the road for the most part, you have to sleep rough. Sounds like a breeze yeah, not when you have 10 clips to smash out the next day it don’t. The best riders I’ve ever seen are the ones who can get leathered every night, have 3 hours kip in a van and then proceed to destroy anything put in front of them the next day. Ben Lewis is one, not only one of the most influential riders this country has produced, but can do it all while hung over, and no sleep. A true PRO.
3. Have a drink/and or drug problem“What it really takes to be sponsored, well this sure is a tough question to answer as everybody has there unique talent hidden inside and there isn’t a correct answer to be fair.” – USA Bike Freestyle Site
At any level of BMX you’re pretty much living a rockstar life style. It’s usually on a budget though, which tends to take the edge off it. Walking into a strip club with a belly full of cider and 30 quid is hardly hitting the big time, but it’s part of the PRO lifestyle and you need to know how to handle it. On a trip, you’re drinking every night. Sounds ok now, but after three weeks on the road you’re a functioning alcoholic in a dizzy mess of getting clips and having fun. Come through this on your first trip and you’ve earned your stripes, do it for 10 years and the reason you’re a legend isn’t because you’re still riding at 40, it’s because you’re ragging it on every trip.
Well you don’t have to be, it’s not essential as such. But there’s protocol when representing a brand. You’re the face of the company, and in the BMX political landscape there’s a certain decorum you must abide by. The moment you piss someone off, you’re out on your ear. It’s a tight community who don’t suffer fools gladly. Sometimes you have to bite your lip and get on with it, if you can’t manage that, then it’s curtains for your career.
Massive upshot to being sponsored. All those years you’ve spent scrimping and saving for the latest products, or riding with a bike that a tramp would turn his nose up at. All of a sudden, with one email and a next day delivery, you’re bike is banging, with spares ready to throw on there if something breaks. Having a bike that runs like a dream is the best feeling, it does take the edge off it when you’ve not had any sleep, still pissed from the night before and staring down the barrel of a triple kinker on a hot day in southern Spain.