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Skydiving Magazine

Kurt Gaebel's Vision
© 1999 Skydiving Magazine - reprinted by permission

Three years ago when Kurt Gaebel founded the National Skydiving League, many jumpers thought he was crazy, not beacuse they didn't like his ideas, but because his aspirations were so big that only he (and perhaps his wife, Becky) believed they were attainable.

Like many of us, Gaebel dreams of the day when the NSL will mirror other professional sports in spectator and sponsor support and media interest. Like us, he believes skydivers should be paid for their hard work and dedication, not having to sacrifice their families and their lives just to be competitive.

But the differene between us and Gaebel is he's doing something about it.

"I think it's a shame that we have such a spectacular, attractive sport and it's not getting the recognition and attention that it should get," Gaebel said. "We are top athletes. Our medium, our arena, is an outstanding arena. It's unique, it's flight, it's flying. That's our sports arena. And it should be better recognized.

"Of course, I'm very well aware that (the NSL) can never be as big or popular as the big league sports. But there are niches - I mean big time - for projects like this for getting corporate sponsorship, for getting media recognition and media coverage and all that. This is not even close to being what it can be.

"My vision is a mini-NBA or mini-NFL, that's the easiest way to explain it. My vision is that we have professional teams, it's a professional sport, there is money available that alows hard training teams to be covered like normal athletes. Not like professional basketbal players, but maybe like professional track-and-fielders. These guys are getting a normal salary so they can go and train without having to worry about how to survive.

"The Golden Knights are a good example. I would like to have all teams in the National Skydiving League, and even on the regional level, skydiving like the Golden Knights do right now."

"I believe we can never become millionaires, not as individual athletes. I believe that the NSL as an entity can make some good money some day, because that's a completely different issue. But if I'm looking into the sport itself, from the athlete's point of view, I believe that in the long term skydivers can be professional athletes like other athletes on the same level, like where soccer is right now.

"And I'm sue that there would be many skydiving competitors out there right now who would be willing to go professional with an annual salary of $30,000.

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