We have hit a new era in wakeboarding. Or action sports in general. This is the era of the instant media overload. I remember back in 1999 Parks Bonifay landed the first 1080 ever done on a wakeboard. I was at my first national contest I had ever competed at in the boys division. But to tell you the truth the only thing I really remember from that weekend other than meeting some of my best friends to this day is that Parks Bonifay had just landed a 1080. And I also remember waiting what seemed like forever to actually see the proof. I wasn’t in the scene then, mainly because I was twelve and still lived in Michigan going to Hudsonville Christian Middle School. I am sure many people in the industry saw the proof of it pretty quick but like every other fan I wasn’t one of them. This day and age is different though. Now you can watch tournaments live online as they are happening. A rider will take a set and that night have it up online. Things are happening so fast nowadays by the time a lot of publications even have the time to release content it’s already passed it’s expiration date. By the time it even makes the Internet it’s already days too old.
It’s also the age of self-promotion. The riders are the main reason. With the economy down and pro riders literally fighting for contract money every rider is doing whatever they can to make a difference by showing their sponsors they are worth the investment. And personally it is doing more for wakeboarding than a lot of things in the past years. Besides things like the Red Bull Wake Lab and the Sesitec System 2.0 I feel like the riders ability to promote themselves is helping wakeboarding get to that next level. You have guys like Chad Sharpe with ChadSharpe.Blogspot.Com and Trevor Hansen at TrevorHansen.com who are literally in the boat every day, camera in hand. They aren’t just posting videos of themselves. Riders are posting videos of everyone they wakeboard with. In a sense they’re inviting everyone to get in the boat with them and take a set with the boys. You have guys like Aaron Rathy who have videographers living with them posting fresh videos every week of new tricks. And after the WBM Wake Awards there was a video up of Aaron Rathy’s backside 1080 within minutes of it being announced that it won. Stuff like this would’ve taken months to be seen in the past.
Don’t get me wrong, while the riders do have a major part in this new movement they couldn’t do it themselves. You have videographers like Spencer Norris, Sean Kilgus and Norbi Vasco who are filming, editing and posting videos of professional riders as fast as they are filmed. They film during the day then spend two hours editing over dinner to have clips posted by bedtime. They are blogging, Twittering and using every other form of media under the sun to get content to us. Even team managers are getting behind the lens. No longer is a team manager confined to booking tickets and dealing with disgruntled athletes because they had a three hour layover. You have dudes like CWB team manager extraordinaire Steve Bates who are not only filming every interaction their team has but going above and beyond to promote that team. Bate’s is constantly thinking up ideas and pushing his team to have that same mindset.
Don’t count out the actual publications. Unless you were paying attention you wouldn’t notice but they are actually the inventors of this era. Long before there were rider blogs there were magazine websites. There were guys showing up at riders’ houses before the sun was even up to film the madness that was happening. So maybe this era could’ve happened years ago but the magazine guys could only be at one house per day. Now that the riders are getting involved and promoting themselves you have a hundred percent more outlets for you too witness.
It’s a new age but it’s a great age. No longer do you have to wait months so that you can see the latest tricks or the latest trip. You can actually watch the trip as it is happening on Twitter or WAKEBOARDINGmag.com. Joey Meddock is literally updating his Twitter fifty times a day with new photos from the trips he is on. So much in fact that every time I go to Twitter the only posts I have on my screen are from him. With this entire media overload you would think the riders would be too busy to have time for fans like us. That is not the case, though. Riders are getting out there into the public more than ever. Now riders are posting their emails online so that you can ask them questions, so that you can give them your input. You can tell them whether you hate them or love them. By the way you can reach me at DerekGrasmanBlog@gmail.com.
Photo: Stephen Harrell
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