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Does the sport really need Pro Skiers?


lpskier
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Here is a question that is bound to be controversial: Does water skiing need pro water skiers? Said a little differently, what does pro water skiing really add to the sport? What does being a "pro" add to the sport? Better scores? Jeff Rodgers disproves that. Records? Ditto. By focusing most of the attention and money in the sport on a few skiers, are we really hurting the sport as a whole? Would the sport as a whole improve if the money spent supporting a few athletes was spent supporting junior programs? If pro skiers weren't pros, don't you think they would, for the most part, still be skiing and competing? Sure, they might not travel the world or even the country to compete as regularly, but that would serve to elevate the significance of the Worlds, the Nationals and even the Regionals as the premier tournaments. Without pros, a broader spectrum of skiers might be featured in ads and in "The Magazine," and that might be quite appealing. Skiers can still work for the boat and ski companies for R&D, so theoretically no loss there.

 

I am not saying that I subscribe to this theory. I have no ax to grind with any pro skier or the concept of pro skiing, and unfortunately for me I will not likely be standing on the podium at a Big Dawg, so no conflict of interest there, but this topic may well be worth a discussion. Thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Why?

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Lets define a the different types of skiers.

 

Pro Skier= one who earns their living by competing in events, promoting their sponsors and tends to coach at a ski school. One who holds an open rating.

 

Open skier= One who holds an open rating can compete in major events with the Pro Skiers( Worlds, Malibu Open ect.) . Tend to have a regular job and ski at a more local level.

 

Amateur= One who does not hold an open rating. This can include BigDawgs

 

Feel free to add or change to my personal definitions.

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It is an interesting question. The problem with your question is that there are very few skiers that make much money from prize money or get a check of any size from a factory. They mostly get money from coaching and or from their sporting federations. Here in the US that does not really happen but the Canadians and many other country support their elite skiers.

 

I think if the skiers promoted themselves better they could do better on sponsorships and would at the same time be promoting the sport. Very few pro skiers do much to promote themselves. Marcus is the only skier that I think does a good job trying to be an athlete / celerity.

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@MattP I agree with your definitions, except I would add that a pro is someone who receives meaningful financial support from any entity in order to facilitate a primarily athletic lifestyle focused on water skiing.

 

Many pros are coaches, but not all coaches are/were pro skiers.

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@skidawg Open is something like 3@39 36mph?

@Horton so that would make you an Open skier by my definition that has a job outside the industry and can compete with the Pros.

 

@lpskier

Does water skiing need pro water skiers? What does pro water skiing really add to the sport?

Water Skiing needs the Pros they are something for us to aspire to be. I do not think I would not be involved in this sport if it was not for me following skiers like Mapple and Cox while growing up or Jodi Fisher who has been there as a friend and coach for me. These are people I looked up to and with out them as a young skier what would keep me interested and involved? Watching John Doe skiing on my lake or at tournaments? Probably not.

 

By focusing most of the attention and money in the sport on a few skiers, are we really hurting the sport as a whole?

I do not think we are hurting the sport as a whole. If there were not Pro skiers would the companies that sponsor the events and skiers still spend their money in the indusry. Would they just give it in support to USAWaterski and then they would control it all and not give it where it is needed. Would they use it to support more Jr. stuff or the Elite teams travel expenses to worlds?

Would the sport as a whole improve if the money spent supporting a few athletes was spent supporting junior programs?

If pro skiers weren't pros, don't you think they would, for the most part, still be skiing and competing?

Yes, if they love the sport they would still be competing and be on top. Trust me they are not in it for the money. They know the sacrifices it takes to be at the top and they are willing to make them to stay there..

 

Without pros, a broader spectrum of skiers might be featured in ads and in "The Magazine," and that might be quite appealing. Skiers can still work for the boat and ski companies for R&D, so theoretically no loss there.

"The Magazine" would still highlight the top skiers. Even if we are not calling them pros. Should "The Magazine" have a one page in each issue that profiles a up and coming skier. YES! It will give the younger skiers something to aim for!

 

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@lpskier

Except I would add that a pro is someone who receives meaningful financial support from any entity in order to facilitate a primarily athletic lifestyle focused on water skiing.
There is not a pro out there that says they receive meaningful financial support from any entity in the industry. So you are saying no one is a pro?

 

Many pros are coaches, but not all coaches are/were pro skiers.
Agreed
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"Here in the US that does not really happen but the Canadians and many other country support their elite skiers." by @Horton

 

You must mean our "Own the Podium Olympic Program" From what I know government supported athletes get around $800.00 a month, does not even cover their rent. It is a common joke about our country.

 

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@skidawg I did not know that. Huh you learn something new everyday. But does that open rating allow them to ski let say Malibu Open? Would they have to ski at 36? or is it for MM? I am a M1 skier so all the 34mph stuff is all what I hear from others not from experience.
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I stand corrected, old rules were 4@39 @ 34mph, now it is the lowest cutoff score of a level 9 ranking to receive an open rating. (I am still an old school thinker when it comes to rules). Yes the open rating obtained at 34 will allow you to ski a pro event, but you would have to go 36mph. I think Miller skied a few 36mph pro events a few years back. We all learn a few things every day, unless our initials are jth :-0
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@Bulldog

You must mean our "Own the Podium Olympic Program" From what I know government supported athletes get around $800.00 a month, does not even cover their rent. It is a common joke about our country.

I bet there are a few USA skiers that would love $800 per month.

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IMHO, nowadays, the best "money" incentive there is out thare for a kid to train hard is to be able to get free college education and be able to spend time in the water while getting a career.

 

Realistically, and in line with some other postings re/Big Dawgs and pros, there is no money to be made in waterskiing compared to almost all other sports out there, mostly because it is a complex sport for spectators.

 

We host a tournament in our lake every year in memory of my friend Carlos Chicharro, and it is the one that gets the largest number of spectators in toe country, around 200, that are not skiers. And they might see 5-10 min of skiing before getting bored. They cannot tell at all the difference between a 28 off skier and a 39 off one.

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We have to have pros. It gives everyone else a sense of position in skiing. Without pros there wouldn't be colligete either. Attendance will go up at pro tournaments if we have more like this years Malibu open. Pros also help sell skis with their scores. Do you think there would be as much 9900's out if CP didn't get around 2 ball? If these skiers weren't pro, Smith's 39 legacy wouldn't even be known. Taking away a lot of credit to Nautique and D3
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@ral the number of skiers that get to go to college for "free" is so small its not even funny. These skiers tend to be the best in the world. When a school gives a scholarship to a skier from another country to come ski for them this is when it starts to bug me. The skiers that are getting to go for free are pretty much Pro skiers. I think colligate skiing should follow NCAA Rules and keep people from competing if they have ever received prize money in their sport. It would keep the college area of the sport more competitive and allow for more room for other people to win and not the pros of tomorrow.
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No it doesnt help. I've been wondering about it for the last year and Im just fresh off my railing against Marcus Brown.

 

Why do these jokers get free skis? Im trying to pay for mine! Toyota Corollas dont have any sponsoships or run in races the car sells well on its own merits. Why cant the skis sell on their merits and not on those of the athlete? Why cant I have an honest review of a ski instead of these phony's peddaling me their kit?

 

http://waterskimag.com/company/2010/03/19/water-ski-reviews-2010-high-end-slalom-skis/

 

They cant give me an honest review. Hell these guys ski so well that they probably just take the ski for the purpose of sponsorship...Like Lebron James plays basketball better in Nike shoes over Adidas or Rebok, these dudes are neglegably better or worse no matter what the high end ski is.

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I think pro's do a lot for the sport. Look at Marcus Brown and the amount of time he spends with the face to face tour. Or Chris Rossi and his help with Radar, and the many other pro's helping test skis to help implement high standards in the quality of the products. The pro's are not being compensated like they deserve, but there is not a large audience like other high paying sports.

 

@Taelan28, These guys deserve free skis; what do you do for the sport? Why would you deserve a free ski?

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A free ski is one thing, they get it at production cost, not distributor markup, shipping or retail markup. If they helped design the ski then they should get a free ski. I used to wash a bunch of dishes and cook in a restaurant, I should get a free meal, not a dining experience.

 

My argument is that I dont want them to get sponsored so I can pay less for a ski.

 

No I have not done anything for the sport.

 

Brown can do a lot for the sport, but this is stupid for him to be saying that having another tournament for enthusiast amatuers is bad for the sport. Its about him getting money.

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Why does the sport need Pros?

 

Pros athletes are marketing vehicles for the sport and the manufactures. It is just that simple. Some make enough money to not have other jobs and others have jobs. I think that is beside the point. What is important is that they improve the bottom line of their sponsors. Winning tournaments is not the important part. Being influential and selling product is.

 

I cannot guarantee the amount outcome but I strongly believe it would be positive for the sport and the financial health of the Pro skiers if they made more of an effort to become sport celebrities. No one in skiing is going to become Shawn White or Tony Hawk but they should aspire to be.

I totally agonized over this http://www.ballofspray.com/horton/749-water-ski-marketing when I wrote it. Then I realized that almost no one cared or was going to read it.

 

There are a few in the sport that I think deserve credit for working in the right direction. Marcus clearly gets it and leads the way for the whole sport. The_Wilson_Bros are following in MBs footsteps are perhaps the new standard. GTF is a great idea that I hope matures farther. I think GTF could potentially be the best marketing tool for getting non-endemic sponsorship in the sport.

 

If you are an elite skier and after reading this still do not understand, let me explain about Krista. 2 years ago she and I talked at Diablo and decided to see how famous we could make her. She is smart and looks good in a bikini so we had a head start. We simply made an effort to get her as much exposure to the world of skiing as we could. Today she is not a pro level skier but has as much or more notoriety as most full time skiers in the world.

 

krista-photo-shoot-nov-2010.png.jpg

 

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@Taelan28

Sorry man but I do not think you have a grasp on “Advertising and Marketing 101” or “Business Econ 101”. If you think a Pro skiers salary really adds a lot to the cost of the ski I suggest you totally boycott any ski company that advertises here or holy crap pays a 100 times as much to advertise in Water Ski Mag.

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The tournament experience, even at a class-c level, would be much poorer if guys like Andy, Rossi and Marcus were not empowered to do what they do: chasing 3@-43, advancing equipment, advancing technique, helping other skiers to improve, and just sharing the support they love.

 

That's at least what a read into that tweet from Marcus. It shows concern that, if forced between choosing one over the other, a sponser might choose the Bigdawg event over an Open/Pro event. It's the concern for loosing opportunity.

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While on a construction site, I saw two excavators operating in the same general area. Each operator was getting the job done. One operator was much smoother than the other. He had a "touch" that the other operator, or I, could not reproduce. It was interesting to watch excellence at work. Same with skiing. I enjoy watching excellence - even knowing I will never run 39-off at virtually any speed. There will always be a place for the upper fraction of any sport. The combination of genetics, circumstance, training, hard work, equipment, psychology, and a host of other factors makes some people and performances freaks of nature. I won't get into the discussion of what makes a "professional" waterskier, but I sure do enjoy watching them ski. As a sport we are richer for them, I only wish they could be appropriately compensated for the extreme level of performance they offer us.

 

Marcus Brown, Chris Rossi, Matt Rini, Jodi Fisher, Jeff Rodgers, Nate Smith, Chris Parrish, Will Asher, Freddy Kruger, and a whole host of other pros that have skied my lake have been class acts. A few need to mature a bit, but age and life experience takes care of that fairly soon. I don't think the Big Dawg takes away from the Pros. I think it does add another outlet of excellence that I like to watch. I think the sport is richer every time someone sets a new Personal Best, Tournament Best, Tournament Win, Lake Record, and World Record. It is all very good.

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Let,s not forget the fact because Pro,s spend so much time on the water skiing at such a high level, they are the people that fully understand whats going on with the ski, with out them, where would the project and development of water skis be ?

When I see some of the sports in the olympics and compare them with water skiers, the atheletic demand and skill of a waterskier, is far more demanding.

Because you can walk around a golf course when you are 80+ knocking a silly ball about,it dosen't matter how many times you hit it , you will get it in the hole eventually, more people play golf, so theres more money in the sport and bigger sponsorship.

IT,S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, nobody is going to promote a sport that will not earn them BIG BUCK,S

When it comes to promotion and being in the in crowd at the office, Golf is going to beat the likes of waterskiing hands down, remember you have to be fit to waterski, you will not get fit waterskiing.

Not everybody is prepared to climb into a cold lake first thing in the morning, but quite happy to put some slacks on and wander round the golf course aimlessly.

 

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I think that any sport that has a cadre of "Professionals" lends to itself more credibility than not, look at Putt Putt and Bowling. I remember both of those on Wide World of Sports and argue that the only way those "sports" got air time was due to the word professional. They were the best in their realm. Certainly wasn't for the drama and athleticism. With that said, the mere fact that my youngest (9 girl) and only skier out of four kids asked me to help her find a Pro Skier role model renewed my faith in mankind. Much better than the 17 mancub thinking that he has a future with his chosen stellar role models in the NBA.
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Interesting. My first thought when seeing the title of this thread was "No". I thought of all the people that I know that ski and that they cared very little about what the pros are doing. They ski for fun, family, and competition among their cohort. (age or ability)

 

Then I realized that I am looking at it from a 40 year old perspective of someone who has been skiing competitively for over 25 years. Thinking back to when I started (18 years old) the pros were a huge motivator. I read water ski mag cover to cover and went to the Coors Light/Bud tour stops at Thompson Lake in Oklahoma City. I thought those guys were soooo cool. I loved skiing myself, but aspired to be one of those guys. It motivated me enough to ski in college, work at ski schools, and eventually get an open and compete in a few tour stops. (Compete is stretching it a bit... but I got there!)

 

So. Pros are important. I agree that they define what the top of the sport is. They also push R&D and importantly motivate the younger crowd. As far as money. Get real. Most of the people reading this board make as much or more than the best water ski athletes in the world, especially if you are just considering prize money and endorsements. It's a cool lifestyle if you're young with no dependents. Professional is a skill level and lifestyle in our sport, not a way to define what they are earning.

 

Interesting topic. Hope we aren't making any of you pro guys mad if you are lurking. We are all truly jealous and would love to spend a year in your bindings!

 

 

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Horton I sent you a message detailing how its possible that Im full of crap. There's one principle though I forgot to mention that pokes a hole in my argument. If sponsoring pro skiers isnt worth it then why do the companies bother sponsoring them? If sponsorship pushed the MSRP too high then they'd change it.
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All sports really need pros to be legitimite. The pros are the stars that should attract others to the sport. A bad example but one that shows how important personality is, is Poker. The poker craze really started when an amatuer won the WSOP. But the pros were the ones who gained the most notiriety and mostly it was the ones with personality as much as anything.

 

As an aside: The great thing about our sport for the amatuer and one of the things that is coolest, is that you could actually go to a ski school/ski with/get a lesson/hang out for a day and talk with the pros like Andy Mapple(or name your favorite skier). Try that with golf (Tiger Woods) and it will cost you big money at a charity event or in extreme sports with Shawn White, Tony Hawk etc. not going to happen. They are too busy and have no need to mingle with the masses.

 

But the good thing for us is the bad thing for the pros, they have to deal with us amatuers to make any money because for a multitude of reasons there are not enough events/sponsors for them to make "real" pro money.

 

 

 

 

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Okay, so far we have a reasonably unanimous support in favor of the need for pros. We can call it the "pro's pro" or the "pro pros." (If Rossi or MB chimed in in favor of pros (duh), his post would be the pro's pro prose.) Now what are the arguments against the need for pros, the so-called pro's con? There have to be counter arguments. If anyone chimes in on the con who has already posted a pro, I promise not to call you a flip-flopper, or to later point out that you were for pros before you were against them.

Lpskier

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