I’m chomping down on a bulbous British beef burger in a quaint countryside pub on the tail end of a bleak south west winter, plagued by an idea desperate to be expressed I hardly notice the grease running down my face from the meat which I devour. Finally, plucking up the courage, I announce to the table “I want to make a sponsor me tape“.

harry - 1-web

Words: Harry Abel
Artwork: Scott Blackmore

So maybe you’re like me. You want more recognition for what you do. You want free skates. You want more likes on your Instagram posts. I’m here to show you that this mindset is influenced by your ego and diminishes your ability to appreciate and see value.

I asked someone to make the tape. I discussed it with a shop owner I was in touch with and he sent it to a boot company. Alas, they didn’t want me. They had given a UK slot to someone else a few days before. The tape appeared on Rollernews, receiving a comment from someone posing as the person who they had put on the team. It said “this is why I am on [boot company] and you are not“. It’s likely that it was posted by someone close enough to me to know what had happened, which hurt. Or at least, it hurt my ego.

The dictionary describes the ego as “your idea or opinion of yourself, especially your own feeling of importance and ability“. Looking at this, my ego influenced the decision to make a sponsor me tape in two ways:

1) I thought my ability was equivalent to some of those already receiving recognition.
2) I thought my skating was of more importance than others, therefore I deserved the attention.

In both mindsets, gaining a boot sponsorship would never have been enough for me. Sponsorship is an external symbol that is inherently empty and we attach whatever meaning we want to it. Thus, an egocentric mindset would have produced very little appreciation for anything I would have been given.

Is there an antidote for the ego?

Well there isn’t a pill you can take, and I wouldn’t want to take one if there was. What’s important to remember is that the way you skate might not be everyone’s cup of tea. The best thing you can do is just go out and skate.

Turning to your friends is also a good solution. It’s likely you share similar ideas and feelings with them. They are your friends for a reason, after all. Buy a cheap camera, get free editing software from the internet, go skate and make something together. Collaborating on a creative process will develop your compassion and appreciation for others and your accomplishments together will be more satisfying than any individual pursuit of free stuff.

You still think you’re worth sponsorship though? Then you will have to make some distinctions. Is your aim to pick up any sponsor possible just to give the appearance of a symbol? Are you willing to skate something that is a bit shitty just because it is free? If so, how much value does this really create for yourself and for others?

If you’re still not convinced, let me have one final word. Perhaps companies do need skaters to represent and sell their products, and perhaps you will help them achieve this. As with any product, there is a supply and a demand. What we can do is look at what we already support, look at who is trying to make a difference and make empowered decisions.

Rollerblading is a pretty small world and most of us will not support your self-importance. You have a responsibility to ask yourself what your beliefs are. How can you learn to see and appreciate value? How can you learn to see and appreciate attention to detail? How can you learn to see and appreciate companies and people that are passionate, driven and inspired? And how can you learn to create more value in your own life and the lives of others?

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