SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2005/Forty Under 40

Wade Martin



The person running the new Dew Action Sports Tour — teenagers, skateboarding, live music and all that — was the captain of the Michigan State tennis team about 10 years ago. This either makes no sense or all the sense in the world.

Wade Martin
• Age: 33
• Title: General manager
• League: Dew Action Sports Tour
• Education: B.S., Michigan State University, 1993; M.S., sport management, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 1995
• Family: Wife, Paula; son, Tosh, 3; daughter, Elle, 6 months
• Career: Started with Advantage International in 1996 as tennis event manager; moved to the emerging sports division a year later, rising to executive director of the Gravity Games and director of the action sports division at Octagon; moved to the NBC/Clear Channel Dew Action Sports Tour as general manager last year
• Last vacation: Turks and Caicos, Thanksgiving 2004
• Last book read: "Devil in a White City" by Erik Larsen
• Last movie seen: Does "Bob the Builder" count? A tough year for movies, so it was probably something I saw on a plane.
• Fantasy job: Assistant basketball coach to Tom Izzo at Michigan State
• Business advice: Find an area that you will be passionate about and where you can make your own mark.
When Wade Martin was captaining the Spartans in 1993 in the gentlemanly game of racquets, skateboarding was just beginning a renaissance that would make Tony Hawk rich while it leveraged the counterculture appeal of kids on boards wearing strange shoes.

Now the former tennis player is running one of the two top action sports properties — the other, the 10-year-old X Games, being the standard-bearer — and he shows a real skill for communicating both with the disparate segments of the still-fractious action sports industry and the sports-business old guard.

“Within this industry, there’s a lot of personality, and there’s an emphasis on being true to these sports and protecting them, and not acting on the exact whims and needs of TV but blending them together,” said Gary Ream, founder of the Woodward Camp and an unofficial adviser to top action properties and athletes. “Wade has that sense. Also, he has developed the wherewithal that when he does say something, he does mean it and he will follow through.”

The Dew Tour debuts in June, to be televised on NBC, the USA Network and possibly others as well. The management team, now barely a year on the job, is working intensely to wrap up matters such as record label partners for live acts and a DVD partner.

“I always tell people that I’m the only tie between tennis and action sports,” Martin said. It’s a different scene than tennis management, which Martin had figured for his career path.

“I never would have dreamed this is the segment of the industry I’d be in when I started,” he said. “But the moment I moved into the emerging sports world, I realized there was something there, that I enjoyed it and it had a ton of potential. I think I kind of naively assumed that the kind of growth that’s taking place would happen … but I made that assumption because I was so close to it and saw the personalities and athleticism.”

Of course, the early stages had their slip-ups, for the sports and for Martin. He recalled the first action event he managed, the Ultimate Inline Challenge, where the bar for a skate high-jump event kept falling on its own. “[You hear] stories about the little things that can just sink an event,” he said. “It’s the fear of the unknown that drives you.”

Maybe that’s where the tennis experience is an asset. Ream doesn’t see a stretch between competitive tennis, competitive action sports or running the Dew Tour.

“There’s the sense of discipline and also of knowing the competitive side of it, the pressure,” he said, “whether you’re a tennis player at match point or on the vert ramp ready to drop in and you know you have to hit every wall.”

Back to 2005 Forty Under 40 list.

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