|ESPN.com: BMX||[Print without images]|
|From left to right: etnies flow rider Terry Adams and etnies pro rider Brian Kachinsky. In Povah's opinion, both are the model BMX pros.|
etnies BMX team manager John Povah has been involved in BMX for over 20 years, first as a pro rider himself, then as a team manager for various brands, including Schwinn, and currently, etnies. Because of his close involvement with the sport's climate and the role of pro riders, he knows what it takes to fulfill the pro role in both the contest and video scene. In the fifth installment of our pro series, Povah breaks down the various instances he's had to ask himself, "What does it mean to be a pro in BMX?" And in true Povah fashion, he calls it like he sees it.
ESPN.com: What do you think defines a "pro" in BMX?
Povah: A role model and an ambassador to the sport.
Has etnies (or any teams you've managed) "turned" any team riders pro?
Not in so many words. We've moved guys up from our flow team to the pro team, but none of them were what could be considered ams to start with.
Being as how you've managed riders that turned pro on the contest circuit, have you ever had to sit anyone down and explain to them that they should probably think about turning pro?
Kinda! I had this situation where a flow rider of ours was kinda sand bagging and was being advised by people close to him to enter smaller, local contests as a pro and bigger contests as an amateur when he was coming up. He would jump back and forth between am and pro depending on the level of contest, which is completely unethical, so I let them know that this was completely unacceptable. After I explained, from that point on, he rode pro. Not mentioning any names, but, let's just say he has a couple of NORA Cups to his name now.
And on the flip side, have you ever had to tell anyone that it might be time to retire from the pro circuit?
I haven't "told" anyone that they are no longer pro. I'm not exactly sure that's possible, is it? I've let guys know that the brand can no longer support them, but that doesn't make them "not" a pro anymore. Being "pro" has many facets and is not solely based around riding ability, because they get paid, contests or coverage. It's not as definitive as retiring as in other more mainstream sports. You can still be relevant and hold value in the sport in many ways and still be considered pro. Hopefully though, if a rider has any kind of grasp of what others are doing, their peer's ability or are conscious of their own relevance in the sport, they will know when it's time to step back, change their role in the sport or take on other opportunities and realize that the position they've held within the sport has ran its course. Only one rider on etnies has ever voluntarily stepped down from his position on the team and personally understood that there were others coming up that were more worthy or deserving than he and that was Ian Morris. To me and to be honest, that showed a higher level of professionalism than can be put into words. I don't know of anyone else who would've done that.
Do you think there's a difference between a "street" pro and a "contest" pro?
In some respects, yes. And some, no. Both are pro in the respect that they may be getting paid to promote brands, get coverage and sell product. In a contest pro's instance, winning prize money is possibly a driving force for them to enter as opposed to a street rider. Maybe winning prize money could be considered a level of someone's pro status? "Street" pros on the other hand have the lifestyle attachment that kids want to be a part of, which is something I feel contests guys maybe don't have so much. Regardless, both are them have to be ambassadors to the sport in some regards.
Do you think there's a certain window of time that riders should be considered pro, or does that title remain indefinitely?
Good question. I guess it's a label that kinda sticks with you, at least while you're still riding anyways. If a contest rider retires from pro competition, then by definition, he's no longer pro because he's no longer riding pro contests. But he may move on to do other things like demos, clinics etc, so he could still be considered pro. It's such a gray area. I guess it's honestly up to the rider himself whether he considers himself a pro once he's pulled back from active competition. For street riders, it's an even grayer area. Ultimately, I just feel that once a rider steps away from the limelight in any way shape or form, then, he is not what would be considered the quintessential "pro," but a former "pro." But definitely not an "am."
Who do you think is a model pro BMXer?
Terry Adams or Brian Kachinsky. It's a close race.
Do you think companies need to take a more active role in nurturing their riders and turning them from am to pro?
Yes. Its easy to sit back and cherry pick the newest talent if you have the money, but, if that company wants any kind of long term relationship with a particular rider that they see a talent in early on, it's important that the brand nurture and support that rider and show loyalty as much as it's important for the rider to show loyalty to that brand. Dakota Roche and Robbie Morales (first with Fit and now Cult) are a great example of a rider/brand that was brought up through the ranks and are now inseparable due to that overwhelming long term loyalty from the brands.
|During the Schwinn days, Povah managed pros such as Jay Miron to multiple X Games medals. Here Povah wrenches Jay Miron's bike back into shape during the '98 X Games.|
What would you tell an aspiring rider that wants to be a pro?
Be cool, be humble, respectful, and not greedy if given the opportunity. Be generous with your time and have respect for others. Be patient with your riding and with others. Being pro shouldn't be the end goal, riding should be (in my opinion). If good things come your way because someone sees something special in you, then cool! If that leads to being able to ride a bike for a living, you're one of the fortunate ones. If you try to force something, it usually shows and works against you.