industry

The wheel within the wheel

This unofficial press release popped up this week in response to debate surrounding Ben Gores sudden departure form the Dekline shoe team. Many rumours began circulating as to why he had been “kicked off”, relating to topics a disparate as a change in board sponsor, not gelling with the rest of the team, not riding for a shop that supported the company and even the influential meddling’s of skateboardings second most famous scientologist.

It is certainly true that on occasion the conflict of interests between an individuals sponsors can lead to contracts not being renewed, as is the same in almost any sport. Companies like Deluxe and the Black Box camp are well known for expecting a high degree of loyalty from their riders, crossing over into other brands that fall under the same umbrella. For example when Darrell Stanton quit REAL you can be sure that those Spitfires stopped showing up on his doorstep.

With Gore however it is harder to see and direct relationship between his sponsors, hinting perhaps then at the behind the scenes workings of the skateboard industry, which just like any other industry is run through backroom deals and golden handshakes. Conspiracy theorists are penning their manifestos as you read this as scientology’s grip on skateboarding ostensibly tightens.

Mike Sinclair is the team manager over at Decline and this is what he had to say on the subject;

Slap Pals, it saddens me that recently I have had to let Ben Gore go from the Dekline team. Did he get kicked off? Well… not really but yeah he’s off the team. I’ll break it down the best I can for you all to digest and pick apart. Did I kick Ben off for him switching from Stereo to Magenta? No, I told Ben I would support his switch no matter what brand he ended up on. Did I say that I would like him to stick it out and stay with Stereo instead of going to Magenta? Yes and this is the reason why.

I like Stereo, I always have and probably always will. Stereo has a ton of history, it’s a true skateboard company (not that Magenta is not) and it’s owned by one of my all time favorite skateboarders Jason Lee. Do I dislike Magenta? No, not at all what so ever. In my opinion it’s a safer bet to stick with a company that’s been around for two decades when you are a new Pro. Small companies start up everyday and if you ride for a new company and they go under in 6 months, it’s really tough to get picked up again as a Pro somewhere else. At the next trade show in two weeks there will be 3-5 new brands, does anyone think all of them will make it? I hope they all do but most likely not all of them will. Do I hope Magenta makes it? Fuck yes I hope they make it! Do I think Magenta will only last 6 months? No I think they will make it happen no matter what, that’s what skater owned brands do, they always make it work.

So back to Ben, have you seen his nollie flips? They are a thing of beauty.. His skating is so rad to me. I personally picked him for Dekline about four years ago and I gave him more ads than any of his sponsors during his time on Dekline. Ben wore the shoes and really like the shoes we make, we discussed a colorway for him and I back him and his skating 110%. So why is he off? Reason 1: Ben rides for MIA Skateshop and they do not carry Dekline. This is not to bad mouth or to point the finger at MIA at all, they sell what works for them and what the people are influenced by in their area. I personally know the owners of MIA but I would never ask them to carry something that does not work for them, plus I’m not in sales. Ben lives in SF but does not ride for a shop in SF. I don’t even think we have a Dekline account in SF to tell you the truth. All of the other current team riders ride for shops that really get behind Dekline and that is honestly what we need to survive. We are a really small brand and every sell we get really makes a difference for us, Dekline paid Ben every month for the past 4 years and promoted him to the fullest yet we can’t influence any shop he is down with to carry our product… This is not Ben’s fault, this is not MIA’s fault, this is not Dekline’s fault, this just sucks plain and simple….So what do we do?

We have to move on, we have to support the guys who support us. Do any of the guys on this forum asking about Ben and why he’s off Dekline have a pair of Dekline’s on? I would be super hyped if you did. If you do PM me and I’ll send you a new pair if you really have a current pair of Dekline’s that you skate in and you back Ben Gore or back Dekline in general. This is the shitty part of being a TM, the team always changes and this change was not performance based. It just comes down to brand and rider support. We supported Ben to the fullest but got no support back. I flow a kid in NYC and he won a gift card from a local contest last week, he told me he went to the shop and bought two pairs of Dekline’s even though he gets whatever he wants for free from me anytime. I thought that was the coolest thing the kid could of done for us. That’s real support! That’s the love we need to make this small skateboarding shoe company work.

Ben, we love you and I know you will find a good place my friend. I told Ben I would keep his name on our team list until he finds something that works for him. If any TM’s are thinking of putting Ben on their team you should, he’s mellow to hang with, he’s a fucking ripper and has style for days. Ben, thank you for being a part of Dekline these past four years! I can’t tell you how much I would like for you to still be on this tiny little skateboard team.

Mike Sinclair 

Now on the surface this might read like a refreshingly genuine and straightforward response, a lifting of the curtain if you will. On the other hand once you read through it a couple of times there are definite points that he raises that will do nothing but fan the flames of controversy around this departure.

Regardless Ben Gore rips, and is now riding for everyone’s favourite powerslide based skate brand “Magenta”, lets hope he will not regress to the level where rolling on surfaces of slightly differing textures and gradients is considered a line, and continues to put out incredible footage like this part from MIA skateshops 2010 release “Welcome to MIA”.

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