Corporate-ization of Action Sports

By: Ed Clancy The corporate-ization of action sports. Live free, or die – like the remaining mom and pop stores? Cut backs, downsize, lateral move. These are not terms used only to describe tricks in action sports but more-so what is happening in the current economy and the effect on everyone. I’ve been watching industry trends and talking to many store owners, snowboarders, and workers over the past several years, trying to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of snowboarding. So far the news isn’t good. There is fear and loathing within the industry. Should start up brands go corporate – to keep production and development competitive – compromising quality? Insiders and veterans in the field hate retail chains for pushing a massive amount of goods into the market; a trade show that is nothing more than a dump site for last years goods, is as much the villain as the internet in cutting out personalized shopping experiences, and retailer profit margins. We know the origins. In the 70’s, this guy with a unique middle name, and a few others, start to surf down the mountain; production of snowboards then starts in converted garages; fluorescent this, that and everything are the “in” gear to put on to protect your body against the elements; skiers-ONLY friendly mountains (?); competitions on tour; snowboarding becomes an Olympic sport; “hundreds of millions of dollars” are used to describe volume sales. Fast forward to the present. Now top-tier executives dictate the trends of actions sports through their Madison Avenue advertising campaigns, public relations teams and countless sponsored competitions. The respective owners are often overheard swearing...