With high-budget events like the Gravity Games and the X Games and video games like Tony Hawk Skateboarding, action sports have hit the mainstream. And mainstream companies like Mountain Dew, Ford, and Right Guard have used action sports star sponsorships in a quest to reach teenagers and young adults.

"These athletes are as big as Sammy Sosa is to a baseball fan," says Issa Sawabini, consulting director for Fuse Sports Marketing in Burlington, Vt. Action sports include skateboarding, surfing, BMX, motocross, wakeboarding, snowboarding, and free skiing.

Sponsorships can range from something as simple as having an athlete wear a sticker on equipment or sponsoring personal appearances all the way to TV spots. Here are some tips when getting stated:

- Determine which action sport is right Ñ your making a connection with the audience and you've got to meet them on their terms.
- Pick an athlete appropriate to your message Ñ each type of athlete has a different set of qualities.
-Keep it real or else it won't fly.
-Work with production people who know or play the sport.

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