Friday, February 23, 2007

Car Racing

I like doing things that are simple and unencumbered by excessive rules. Maybe that's why I paddle a kayak, often alone. But, I also enjoy the company of other like-minded paddlers who enjoy the game for what it is and are willing to share what they know. That is the kayaking I've known and will continue to enjoy. In this world, however, nothing is as certain as change.

Kayaking is going through puberty, a normal evolution in the "growing" process. It began with symposiums, places for paddlers and would be paddlers to gather and exchange knowledge. In addition, organizations began forming to bring sub groups of paddlers together. Some, such as QAJAQ, were designed to serve groups within the general paddling population. And so on, until the inevitable.

Now, like professional car racing, commercialism is coming to the forefront. It is only a matter of time until Tuiliks are covered with decals sporting the names of sponsoring boats, paddles and accessories. A whole generation of paddlers has appeared that not only make paddling their life but make some of their lively hood from paddling. It has become more and more common for "name" paddlers with unique skills to be paid to appear at an event or to give a workshop.

And the manufacturers, not in business for their health, want these folks to use their equipment. Hence, the freebie. It has gotten so that if one is known enough in the paddling community and decides to take a notable trip, companies will outfit them in order to put their products in the spot light. So, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Actually, neither, it just is. It is what happens in this world with anything that grows enough that someone can make a buck off it. It is free enterprise and, as long as the products are good and legitimate, I suppose we all benefit in some way. Hey, I cleared (after taxes and travel....but I digress) $1.80 by teaching sea kayaking in 2006 (Note to NDK, Rockpool, etc: I am ready to endorse your stuff. They will be seen by at least 22 paddlers a year).

As long as there is somewhere paddlers can hang with other paddlers and learn from one another without having to go to the check book for every little thing; and as long as folks don't sell their integrity and recommend less than good stuff just because it comes from their sponsors...well, then we will be okay. But this is just puberty. You know what teenagers can be like.

Paddle safe...


1 comment:

derrick said...

true enough.