Krista Rodgers Schipner Dear Water Skiing

Dear Water Skiing | Waterski Magazine

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Dear Water Skiing, It’s Not You. It’s Us.

Krista Rodgers Schipner Dear Water Skiing

Image: @waterski_mag

By Krista Schipner

Waterski Magazine


April, 2017

I urge the water-skiing community to remember where and how they fell in love with the sport in the first place. Many of our current die-hards are third generation water-ski babies. Where did their parents or grandparents first fall in love with the sport?

For most of us, it was having fun under the sun and on the water with family and friends. And the skier was more concerned about getting a PB or impressing someone in the boat than he or she was about how perfectly straight the boat path was or if the time was indeed 16.95.

Skiers today – and their moms, dads and grandparents – likely fell in love with this sport behind an old outboard boat, or a wooden ski with a binding that resembled a flip-flop more than a Wiley’s. The passion was probably developed over the summer, at someone’s family cabin after days of out-the-fronts, mouthfuls of water, and skiing doubles with friends.

Water skiing, you’ve provided us endless hours of fun, sore muscles and memories. You’ve taught us to get up after falling down time and time again. You gave us a place to bond with our parents, neighbors, friends and strangers. You’ve taught us life lessons about strength, humility, determination and dedication.

You’ve given us a world where our hometowns, language and culture fall second to how we identify ourselves. Being a water-skier and part of this family always comes first.

Thank you for giving us early mornings smelling like sunscreen and gasoline and late nights consisting of sunburned skin and blistered hands. Thank you for providing that feeling, that one every water-skier knows, of breaking glass under your ski.

Thank you for the joy. For the laughs. For the triumphs and the competition.

Compensation adds enjoyment. A new set of goals, benchmarks and adventures. New friends, trips, events and memories.

But we apologize. We apologize for taking you for granted. We apologize for trying to make you something you are not. We apologize for making it too complicated.

We became selfish.

We became enthralled with ourselves. We turned inward instead of reaching out. We focused on fractions of feet, inches of deviations in a ramp, quarter buoys and new standards for judges. We added layers upon layers of technology to the sport in an effort to chase a futile Olympic dream. We made it daunting. We made it hard in ways it shouldn’t be. We took advantage of volunteers.

Competition brings joy until too many rules squelch it. It becomes too much of a burden to bear for the technical-controller volunteer or the promo-boat owners. It is too much.

We became exclusive. Elitist.

Self-serving. That is not what you are about. That is not the heart of the sport. We lost sight of why we are all here in the first place.

From beginners to pros to retirees and everything else in between, remember you work for the industry, the industry doesn’t work for you. We are all in this together and need to contribute in the best ways we can. We took advantage, and now it is time to take responsibility.

Water skiing is not dying. The box that we’ve tried to put it in, however, is collapsing. Weekend warriors are soaking up the sun on a public lake, someone is trying the course, and another has finally got the nerve up to ride a tube for the first time. These are our people. They are part of our water-ski family too.

For most of us, water skiing is a lifestyle that is just as much dedication to craft as it is a social activity. I invite the ski family to remember the first time they got up and the joy it brings them to teach others, and I challenge them to continue to spread that joy.

Water skiing, we are sorry, but we are not done. We’ve seen where we’ve gone wrong, and we see the bigger picture. We will teach new people to ski. We will invite our friends who have left the sport to come and take a ride. We will embrace the kids who just want to tube or kneeboard, and we will praise the barefooters who get the early-morning butter. We understand that we are all part of the same team with a shared love for being behind the boat, and we will be better teammates moving forward.

With love,

Krista.

This article originally appeared in Issue 1, Volume 39 of Waterski Magazine.