Here’s my thoughts:
You get out of something what you put into it. Unlike many other things though, yoyo does need additional input,which is often best achieved through social settings with other yoyo players. As we know, there’s more to this than just banging out tricks, otherwise we’d just be satisfied with trick ladders.
Not all of us can be the best. It’s just like nearly anything else. Many will try, but no matter how hard some of us try, we’ll never make that upper echelon. That’s life. But, it doesn’t matter how good we are if we can’t attract the attention of those who can provide us with the means of staying at that level. In the case of yoyo, it’s in the form of sponsorships.
In my case, I know for a fact that no matter how hard I try, I’m not going to be an upper level player. It’s also not my goal either. I do want to improve and get better. My end goal is still selfish if you want to look at it that way. I’m only in this for personal enjoyment. However, if I can teach, help, share and inspire others, then so be it. I got a guy sending me 15 bearings to clean and Dry Play treat, and I absolutely don’t mind this at all. My goals don’t include competing and that means “no freestyle” and “no trick ladder” either.
Similarly, we’re not all made of money. Unfortunately, it costs to go to contests. Either the cost of entering, the cost of travel, the cost of food, the cost of accomodations. It ain’t cheap. Just like with pro athletes, they are taken either as a team or individually to events. This does NOT count against the salary of the athletes. In the case of pro teams, the ownership of the team is covering travel and accommodations plus per diem. In the case of individual athletes, this is often covered by a sponsor, such as a product they are endorsed by(sounding kind of familiar?). However, in the case of high profile athletes, such budgets may be in the millions, where-as budgets for yoyo players might be in the thousands annually. We’re talking about the difference in marketability and recognition on a global stage. No yoyo company has the money to pay a player $3-$5 million per year to play yoyo on top of expenses. Well, maybe one does but in general they ain’t gonna plonk down that kind of dough.
Attending contests in and of itself does not make one a better player. Hard work makes one a better player. Add the social element and peer to peer criticism, challenge and fun also helps a player improve. Finding other ways to improve is also critical.
The key is finding ways to meet with other players. I’m lucky I found YoLex. I also tried my own stuff and it’s not really working though, but that’s because my schedule keeps changing and sabotaging my plans. Through YoLex I’ve met many amazing and great players, which has in turn led to great things for myself, which in turn has led to meeting other amazing players. I still suck, I just suck less… or something like that.
For me, yoyo is very difficult. It’s frustrating, it’s aggravating. At the same time, it’s relaxing and therapeutic. Nothing comes easy in this for me. Everything is a fight. Perhaps this is something I am NOT meant to be doing. I am enjoying this, if you can believe it.
For those of us who are not sponsored, trips around the world, a county or even around a state or province can get costly. We all can’t do it. For those of us not made of money, do what you can within your means. This isn’t worth going broke over. Get to nearby contests that end up with some decent names showing up and do your best. The objective isn’t necessarily to win. Always do yourr best. Winning should always be a goal. The objective is to attract the attention of companies that might be willing to sponsor you. Control your costs, but you will need to find ways to reach out to something big enough to ensure that you put yourself in front of companies. Not to pick a brand, but YYF had Ben there at Nationals. While Ben put on a good show for 2A, I can bet you that he was also scouting talent and looking out for his team, his brand and expanding his stable of talented, young players. I can also tell you that I’m positive he wasn’t alone. I know Rick from Madhouse was there, and so were 2 of his players.
For me, sponsorship isn’t going to happen. My goals are are to do sound at CalStates, BAC, attend Nationals AND get the sound contract, and my big trip will be helping run production at Worlds in Orlando. Why won’t sponsorship happen? Well, it won’t be because I’ll refuse it, but it’s because I doubt I have what sponsors want. I won’t compete. I won’t make videos. A brand won’t want me because I switch throws often and pay little attention to brand, I play what the mood says I should play. Outside of doing sound product at events, there’s honestly not much I can offer or bring to the table.
Keep in mind your hidden agendas and end goals. Mine are modest, simple, perhaps selfish, and oddly enough, not hidden.
Find your own way. However, as long as you’re on YYE, you’re not doing this alone.