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'Pushing Forward' Season 3: Going pro in skateboarding

For our next episode of "Pushing Forward" Season 3, we explore what it means to be a professional skateboarder and just how much the pathway to going pro has changed.
By Zane Foley
3 min readPublished on
As skateboarders, we hold the concept of going pro as a sacred path to skateboarding immortality. Embedding your name on the bottom of a board is what skate dreams are made of and has always been considered the epitome of a skate career.
However, as we see in Season 3 of "Pushing Forward," going pro comes with its own set of criticism. Most of the time, going pro is a testament to all the hard work; all the physical and mental tolls and the sheer amount of love a skater has poured into skateboarding. Hopefully, it comes back to them as a community opens their arms and celebrates this achievement.
Zion Wright at Red Bull Drop In Tour in Barcelona, Spain in September 2022

Zion Wright at Red Bull Drop In Tour in Barcelona, Spain in September 2022

© Anthony Acosta / Red Bull Content Pool

At the same time, this three letter word instantly puts you on a pedestal and into a category representing your contribution to skateboarding. This is precisely why skateboarders hold this concept so dear and why many are willing to voice their opinions or displeasure on the current state of affairs surrounding going pro.
While the reasons why a skater wants to go pro have remained the same, how skaters go pro has dramatically changed. We revisit just how much skateboarding as a whole has changed with the shifting of technology and skate media. We bring to light the larger conversation about today’s skaters joining the pro ranks through new paths of income and the reasons why a skater would choose to go a less-conventional, more criticized path to going pro.
We explore the cultural implications and critiques through a series of interviews with some of skateboarding’s most legendary magazine editors and photographers, pairing their insight with some of today’s most influential YouTube and social media skaters; who are at the forefront (and often the brunt) of the conversation.
These magazine editors witnessed their follower counts become eclipsed by these individual skaters, while YouTubers continue to make record profits over their typical pro skater counterparts. Naturally, we beg the questions once again “What does it mean to be a pro skater?” and “How does one get there?”
While naturally, skateboarding assumes these ends of the spectrum are at odds both in function and philosophy but we uncover in these intimate and thought-provoking conversations how the past and the present are still connected by the same influences. Perhaps more importantly, today, while skaters are holding phones to film bite-sized snackable content, they still hold dear to their hearts the earlier years of grabbing a mag from the mail, popping a VHS into their player, and the pace of the pro journey.
By revisiting decades of skate heritage, we are reminded how the earlier pros had to navigate a print magazine and full-length video centric skate economy, a journey that came with its own challenges and rewards. As with any culture as hermetic as skateboarding, these skaters have arrived at the gatekeepers doorstep and are demanding to be let in; "Pushing Forward" the conversation on what it means to be a skater going pro in today’s skate world.