"Most importantly, a sponsored rider should always remember to represent their product, shop or company in the best way possible. It's always important to give back to those who give to you!
"Kids turn pro by competing in the amateur circuit and making it to the World Finals. They must then place in the top ten. Some kids eventually become considered pro by being picked up by a skate company as well.
"To me, being a pro means more than being the best in your sport. It is about representation and giving back to the sport you love. You are always going to find amazing talent in many different people and you need that. You need all types of images as well, but most importantly a pro should be someone you can look up to--a role model."
--Richie Velasquez, Inline
Gear, Checks and Your Name on a Deck
"If you are sponsored, it generally means you get free product from a company. In skateboarding, your first sponsor might be a local skate shop that thinks you are a good skater, and they give you some gear.
"Now in the digital age, a lot of kids get their first sponsor by sending the company a "sponsor me" video, which is just a highlight video of the kid's skills. This can be any company--skateboard, shoe, clothing, wheel, etc. If they think that you are a good enough skater and feel like you can be a marketing tool for their brand, they will sponsor you and give you free stuff.
"The decision to turn pro is usually one that is made by your sponsors. It's basically when a company feels like you give them enough marketing value by representing their company that they are not only giving you free product, but they are also giving you a paycheck.
"Usually the skateboard company that sponsors you decides that you have become "famous" enough in the skateboard world through magazine/video/television exposure that they want to do a line of skateboards with your name on them."
--Neal Hendrix, skateboarding
Each sport is different, just like each athlete. If you want to go pro or get sponsored, get out there, work hard and do what you love. Hey, even if the fame and glory don't follow, it's still a sick ride.