Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Skateboarding is Not A Sport

You can take practically any physical endeavor and turn it into a “sport”. Just flip through the cable channels late at night and you’ll see. There is competitive lumberjacking, competitive aerobics, competitive martial arts. There's even professional eating. Turning something into a sport is simple all you have to do is impose limitations on it.  Mark Twain once  joked that the sport of golf was  “a good walk spoilt.”  It was just a smart ass remark, but the essence of sports lies in that little quip. Add in rules about teams, official measurements and require someone to carry a ball, and something as simple as walking from one end of a field to another becomes football.

Skaters have been antagonistic about branding skateboarding as a sport for decades. A lot of this comes from skating's DIY roots and the punk rock ethos it picked up in the 1980’s, but the need to refute and reject all attempts to make skateboarding a sport go beyond simple rebellious desires, it cuts right to the nature of skating itself. Limitations and skateboarding are two entities that always have trouble getting along. Entities that should have trouble getting along.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Popsicle Experiment

For the last two years I have been one of the thousands of skaters who has embraced alternate skate deck shapes. I've ridden shovel heads, punk points, curvaceous, wide bodied hybrids like the Street Plant Street axe, and I’ve had custom shapes made to my own specs, The whole time I've been pretty vocal about how these shapes can be more than just nostalgic, stylistic affectations.

About 3 months ago, for the first time in 2 years,  I set up my first popsicle deck. It was my attempt to come full circle with all my experimentations, and see how my perceived preferences stood up against the baseline of modern skateboarding.

Even in light of all of my shape advocacy, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t notice immediate advantages with the popsicle. There are good reasons to ride a standard shape, just as there are good reasons to ride a well-designed alternate shape. Teasing out what advantages come from the actual popsicle shape and which come from other factors like a shift in wheelbase size and width is a more subtle matter.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Submit To The Grind: Examining Skateboarding's Original Sin

There are things in life so ingrained that we never notice how weird they are unless we take a big step back. Skate culture is full of these sorts of things. In fact, you could say it is built upon them. After all, we're a culture obsessed with finding ways to further complicate riding what is already the world's most dysfunctional vehicle.

Take grinding, and by grinding I mean all the related acts of board sliding , tail sliding, nose sliding, whatever, as well. Grinding, be it trucks or decks, is as essential to modern skateboarding as urethane wheels and precision bearings. But, step out of your skater consciousness and really ponder the grind for a moments and you will quickly realize our obsession with the grind is really fucking weird.