Toy Skateparks

An Open Letter to Andy Macdonald from Tom Miller of Skaters for Portland Skateparks

September 16, 2003
Re: Bad Pro Endorsement Deals

BULLSHIT ON BAD ENDORSEMENTS—Every American has a Constitutionally protected right to earn a living in a manner he or she sees fit within the boundaries of law. Skaters that companies deem appropriate to serve as spokespersons for certain products are certainly free to endorse any such product, however ridiculous. The question of endorsement savvy, then, is not one of law but something subtler. It's called tact.
     Andy Macdonald is a skater of inarguable tenacity and skill. I, myself, will never match his lines. Like most readers, I'm among the mass of nameless, faceless skaters who continue to ride, in part, because of inspiration derived from guys like Andy. We're the people whose passion for skateboarding keeps his paychecks coming and this entire industry afloat. I fully defend Andy's right to represent himself as a skater in any situation he deems appropriate. But it's time to have a word with Andy and his ilk.
      Every time you guys endorse a product it reflects on the revered way of life we all share as skateboarding. Andy, you guys are so good you make a living at it. A damn good living. When I say "damn good" I don't mean to imply a certain sum of money. Any amount of money earned through pursuit of passion like skateboarding is damn good. If you guys need a lesson you can trade places with me any day; I sit behind a desk for 40 hours/week.
      So what's up with endorsing pathetic product that we all know disserves the long-term interests of our revered way of life? Let's just focus on one such product: prefabricated skatepark set-ups generated by playground companies. Andy, you guys know the session ain't on at some bogus plastic setup. Is it just a paycheck to you? I appreciate your desire to earn a living through skateboarding. It's an incredible opportunity, and yes, you should make the most of it. But it's not just about you. You need to understand you're ruining our session—the sacred altar, the only thing that matters in skateboarding. When you guys endorse this stuff, duped city officials buy it. They distrust and disrespect the experience of guys like me who have been skating for 25 years imploring them to hire a design/construction team comprised of people that skate. Do you guys get it?
      While you travel the globe getting paid to session with friends experiencing what we can only dream we're slugging it out at home with the bureaucrats who know nothing about skateboarding. We're just everyday inconsequential skaters; they don't trust us like they trust a pro-skater endorsed sales pitch from a bankrolled playground equipment company who recognizes profit to be seized in the current surge of city skateparks. Your paycheck sells out the session for all of us. You run off to the next stop on the celebrity skate parade while we get stuck with 4-foot prefab nonsense. If you weren't jet setting and had only your local prefab park to skate you too would curse the name of the professional skater who endorsed it. Hard feelings, then, are inevitable, but I'd rather be productive about this.
      I write this humble plea asking for mutual respect, foresight, and yes, tact. Andy—all of you—think about the repercussions of what you endorse before you scoop up a check. We're spending literally years of our lives begging for real skateparks. We need your support. You're rolling the high life in a serious way—thanks to us. Show some respect already and ditch these profiteers who care not at all about the quality of our session. Are you guys cool enough to respect that?

Tom Miller
Skaters for Portland Skateparks



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