If you’re not an avid snow fan you may be surprised to know that Shaun White is not only loved by many, but hated by just as many in the snow community. I mentioned this briefly in yesterday’s post on ‘3 Things We can Learn From Shaun White‘.
The question is why is he hated?
See the video above? That’s Shaun White at 11 years old. His incredible ability and progression from a young age is part of the reason for the hate. To understand more, you’ll need to know a little bit about the background that snowboarding was founded on.
A very brief background of snowboarding
Snowboarding was founded on roots of having fun with your friends and being a rebel while ‘sticking it to the man’. It was seen as the sort of sport that troublemakers would participate in. In fact, snowboards were not allowed on chairlifts at most resorts until about 20-25 years ago.
If you snowboarded, you were seen as somewhat of an outcast at the snow resort and this fueled snowboarders to band together to support each other. If you’ve seen the ‘Whiskey’ series of snowboarding movies, you’ll get a glimpse of the sort of chaos that was around during the early days of snowboarding. Picture ‘Jackass’ but 15 years before MTV made the show.
How does this relate to Shaun White?
By the age of 11, Shaun White was already skyrocketing into the snowboarding lime lite. From a young age, he was already pulling tricks that many adults couldn’t do and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down since unleashing his insane bag of tricks at the 2010 Olympics.
Shaun White basically represents everything that isn’t ‘keeping it local’ or ‘sticking it to the man’. He’s been mentored by big names such as Tony Hawk, has held huge sponsorship deals with big companies such as Burton and in 2008 he earned $9 million dollars from sponsorship and endorsements. He even has his own clothing line with Target.
So how does all this make people hate Shaun White?
Well, all of this combines to form the different groups of people who hate Shaun White:
- He’s seen as a ‘sellout’ by some because he makes so much money
- People hate on big companies like Burton for becoming too big and corporate. Shaun White earns insane amounts from Burton contracts, so this hate for Burton transfers to him as well.
- Kids who want to be seen as rebels and ‘cool’, start hating on him because it supposedly shows how ‘core’ and ‘local’ they are. You may have seen this on the Transworld snowboarding website where every article gets 20 comments saying “f%$# Shaun White” or “F*&@ Burton”
- Competition jocks & Shaun White in particular are seen as ‘not riding for fun’ because they take it too seriously
- People like to hide jealousy with hate
- People hate how much more attention Shaun White gets over other great snowboarders
What I think:
1: Earning money doesn’t mean you’re a sell out
So what if he earns 10 million a year? He’s doing what he loves. He loves snowboarding, loves competing and he loves progressing. He just happens to earn a lot of money while doing it.
2: The hate for Burton is rarely justified
How many people who make random comments of ‘F*%# Burton” even know why they are saying it? If their board breaks, they blame Burton. Forget the fact that there are just as many boards from other companies that would have broken as well. Stuff breaks, deal with it. Saying “Their stuff sucks!” isn’t good enough reason to hate on Burton or Shaun White.
I’m not saying that Burton gear is the best or that we should worship Burton like many 10 year old kids do, but don’t hate on them just because everyone else does. Use your brain and think things through for once.
3: Kids can be stupid. We’ve all been there.
This isn’t some surprising revelation. When we were younger, we did stupid things and said stupid things to try to be cooler. It happens.
4: Competition doesn’t mean you’re not having fun
The problem here is that not everyone loves competition. When they see riders such as Shaun White become angry at failed runs or angry at themselves for failing, they see it as if they are giving up on the fun aspects of snowboarding.
We have no right to tell anyone else how they can enjoy snowboarding. If someone enjoys competition it’s their choice, who are we to say that it’s not fun for them?
5: Jealousy… what else is new?
People get jealous when someone is successful or lucky. That’s just how it goes. So what if he’s rich and famous? It doesn’t affect you, stop being jealous!
6: The media does what the media does
I completely agree that it’s unfair how little attention many great riders such as Nicolas Muller or Devun Walsh get, but it’s not as if Shaun White sets out to make the media follow his every move. Hate on the media but don’t hate on Shaun White just because the media loves him.
Stop the hating and just go enjoy snowboarding.