The inclusion of Skateboarding in the Olympic Games has a lot of skaters up in arms. The way some are talking, you would think the International Olympic Committee was coming to personally focus their boards and stopper all their spots. In reality, the Olympics are way down the list when it comes to threats to skateboarding. It's time for some perspective: here are 7 threats to skateboarding that are way worse than its inclusion in some international sports prom that only takes place every four years.
Pebbles are the ultimate geological poseurs. Not big enough to be rocks, not small enough to be dirt, pebbles spend their whole life just sulking around on the pavement waiting to take you out. Pebbles are everywhere, and the worst thing is, you never know just which ones are going to take you out. You ever been rolling along and knocked some big chunk of rock away harmlessly with your wheel, only to hang up on some miniscule bit of silicate 20 feet later? I hate pebbles. So, unless you've ever taken a slam by hanging up on your gold medal, pebbles are still worse than the olympics
The Collapse of Longboarding And “Cruiser Culture”
Sales of longboards and penny-type boards have dropped drastically in the last few years, some estimate by as much as 30% (http://www.boardsportsource.com/trend-report/longboard-fw1617-trend-report/)
That drop in longboard sales may not seem so bad to the tough guys who look down on the campus cruisers and “wrongboarders”, but there’s another side to this. As the longboard market implodes, so may the skate shops or brands leaning on the trend to stay profitable. In addition, the numbers of longboarders and cruisers out there have effectively padded the stats when it comes to number of skaters in communities, and those are the numbers that can be used to convince cities to invest in parks. Narrow minded skaters may refuse to see longboarders as brothers in arms, but we're definitely weaker, at least financially, with fewer of them around.
Rubber Parking Blocks
Parking blocks are the plankton of the skateboard ecosystem; the humble, ubiquitous, organism both beginning skaters and veterans alike can feed on almost anywhere in the vast urban oceans. With the introduction, of un-grindable rubber parking stoppers to an increasing number of parking lots, skateboarders are faced with a potential habitat loss scenario. If these non grindable abominations become the norm, the prime spawning grounds of future skateboarders will be rendered barren,You ever try so slappy or boardslide a recycled rubber block? There's not enough wax in the world to get it going even if you are riding two rails. So forget about the olympics, and save our blocks!
Parents have always been a threat to skateboarding. Back in the day they might ground you from skating for bad grades, or take away your board because your favorite skater’s name backwards happened to spelll “Satan”. These kinds of parental threats still exist, but now you can add “skate parents”, from the obnoxious sideline coaches, to the helicopter hangers-on who want to scream in your face for accidentally bumping into their clueless six year old at the local park, to the list of parental perils. Sure, now you can actually see parents skating with their kids, but even these moms and pops can be a detriment if they never give their kids the space to build their own identity in skateboarding. On the whole, the potential threats parents can pose to skate culture has both grown and diversified. Until the IOC can impose a curfew on your skate time, or cut your deck in half with a bandsaw because you skipped school to skate, Parents are a much bigger worry than the Olympics.
The spaces that attract skaters are often the same kinds of places that draw graffiti artists, both good and bad. Public skateparks, unsupervised and open, are especially attractive. Sure, street Art has a culture and tradition every bit as sophisticated and influential as skateboarding but, for every writer whose work brings beauty and consciousness to urban spaces, there are about a hundred kooks who just want to spray played out hip hop slogans and sketchy bubble letters on whatever is around. Either way, graffiti, even work that is equivalent to fine art, can shut your spot, DIY, or even public park down quicker than anything short of a drive-by shooting. It doesn’t matter if the graffiti consists of jaw dropping, politically insightful murals or terrible renditions of pot leaves and glocks, to the average square, it is all equally an eyesore and grounds to cause a ruckus with the cops and the city council. This is why lurkers with spray cans and sharpies are still a bigger threat to your skateboarding than some overhyped athletic festival.
Good ‘ol cold-grown, “hard rock” canadian maple, it is, literally, the thing that all of skate culture stands upon. After decades of tinkering with epoxies, fiberglass, bamboo, and carbon fiber, skate manufacturersahve still not come up with anything close to cold grown maple for deck construction. As The earth warms, more and more of the world’s maple trees are going to fall out of the “cold grown” range that produces suitable skateboard veneers. Fewer trees mean higher prices. Unless we all stop using fossil fuels, or someone comes up with a miracle synthetic deck material in the next few decades, the $100 deck may be in our future. So, go ahead and rage against the Olympics if you want, but you might be doing skateboarding more good by shutting up and buying a Prius.
The Continuing Sausage Party
Conventional wisdom says that the skate industry, and especially skate shops, are in crisis. While skaters wag their fingers and blame big corporations, scooters, and the olympics, skate culture continues to marginalize 50% of the earth's population by not working harder to include women. From board graphics, to media and advertising, the objectification of women is everywhere in skate culture. Whether it is clips of strippers twerking next to handrails, or the multiple softcore graphics hanging on shop walls, sex sells in skateboarding… but it’s only straight male fantasies on sale. Beyond the visuals, women skaters find too often find themselves skating in the “Girls Division” in skate contests, coverage by photo editors is too often dictated by sex appeal, and, on message boards, skaters still don't seem to get that saying how “sexy” a female skater looks doing a trick is more objectifying than encouraging. So, until the board walls and t-shirt racks at the local shop begin to look a little less like a Jr. High boy’s spank bank, maybe we shouldn't be worrying so much about the Olympics.