Cooksey, Straight To The Point: The Current Rider Development System Is Moronic 20

Another week, and another chance for Cooksey to hop on his soapbox.

Cooksey, Straight To The Point: The Current Rider Development System Is Moronic

When teams like Rockstar Husqvarna sign kids like Michael Mosiman and Jordan Bailey right out of the amateur ranks, how long should the team stay with them before deciding they are a lost cause? Currently, there isn’t a set answer to this question. Teams are now signing amateurs to long-term contracts, with most of the contracts taking them into their first year or two of professional racing. What happens if they don’t deliver results? Teams quickly disregard the years of amateur support and cast the rider aside for another young prospect. I have to ask if this process is the best way to groom talent. It’s aimed at finding the next superstar. Rockstar Husqvarna is on both sides right now, Mosiman an emerging talent, but Bailey looks like he might become another victim of the system as his career seems in jeopardy.

Michael Mosiman.

Mosiman’s development is on par with the bare minimum teams allow, and in fact, after last year there was talk of Mosiman being cut from the team. They needed to make room for Thomas Covington, a GP winner and former USA MX of Nations team member who was supposed to make his triumphant return to American Motocross. I won’t dwell on this catastrophic failure but it’s not good and could spell the end for Covington as a professional racer. Covington has been given adequate time to develop and should perform. Bailey on the other hand, not so much and it’s still up for debate whether he has what it takes to become a superstar in this sport. 

Jordan Bailey.

Heading into Thunder Valley Bailey said on Instagram, “Some people say I don’t have enough talent to compete on the top level. Let me show you where work gets you not talent.” I absolutely love this attitude but unfortunately, he didn’t deliver. Let’s be real, this kid has only been a professional for 13 months. Not exactly a wealth of experience. Look at his teammate Mosiman, a 23-month Pro just starting to find his speed. Asking these kids to be frontrunners in their first couple years is unrealistic. I know there are a few outliers like Rickey Carmichael, James Stewart, and Damon Bradshaw, but most need two or three years to develop.

Jordan got left sitting at the gate in the first moto at Thunder Valley with a bike issue.

Think about how immature you were at 16, 17 and 18 years old. I was an idiot, and if I had been given a big contract and had huge expectations it probably wouldn’t have ended well. Add to that the introduction of social media. Kids these days aren’t allowed to make mistakes without being labeled. I can promise you Bradshaw, Carmichael, Stewart, and every other youth who turned pro before social media had some moments they are glad nobody filmed or tweeted about.

Justin Cooper.

I hope parents and teams alike are taking notice of Justin Cooper. He isn’t a product of the current “amateur factory.” He was allowed to finish high school and develop out of the spotlight. He is still very young at 21, and with the days of being “old” after 25 are gone. Chad Reed, Justin Brayton and many others are proving you can be competitive well into your 30s. Unfortunately, the grind of being a professional can wear guys out, but if they start a little later, they can go longer. Take a look at John Dowd’s career if you doubt this theory.

My solution is simple. Teams and managers need to stop scouting kids before they hit puberty. Nobody knows how a kid will grow or develop until they reach their late teens. Stop giving amateurs factory equipment, stock bikes are fine. This will allow a more accurate barometer when scouting talent. Take the money currently being wasted on amateurs and offer support rides for developing pros like Bailey. Give him good equipment and a reasonable travel budget, maybe strike a deal with the TPJ program for a couple years. If he shows improvement, promote him to the factory rig. 

If teams think enough of riders like Jordan Bailey to sign them, they need to stick with them for at least three years. If they aren’t committed to give them a three-year deal, then maybe they should have them in a support role. It's time to rethink how riders are developed, the current system is moronic!

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Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.

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