Skateboarding is a sport that is uniquely different from all others. It doesn’t require a team competing for a common goal. There isn’t a legitimate system that judges how talented a skateboarder is. There is no league regulating how skateboarding should be done. Skateboarding is an individualistic sport that provides infinite potential for progression. There is no limit on the amount of tricks that can be learned or landed. With stair sets, handrails, ledges, and street obstacles everywhere, the world becomes a skateboarder’s playground. Unfortunately, there is a wide misperception about skateboarding that many people develop.
This is usually due to ignorance or a lack of knowledge of its culture. Many people refer to skateboarders as people who vandalize public and private property. It is not uncommon for a skateboarder to be yelled at outrageously or be threatened to have law enforcement called on them. There are more vast amounts of basketball courts, swimming pools, football fields, or even tennis courts than there are skate parks. Skateboarders should be allowed to skate public property more freely without facing such harsh, unnecessary consequences.
Skateboarding has a long, evolving history behind it. It first evolved from surfboarding, which consisted of cruising ocean waves on a long board made out of wood. The early rise of skateboarding developed when surfboarders had a desire to surf sidewalks when ocean conditions weren’t favorable. This eventually led to the invention of the Skateboard. The board of a skateboard, the deck, was much smaller than the size of a surfboard. Skateboards made in the 1960’s were very thin, and consisted of large rubber wheels for cruising around in empty pools with steep, vertical surfaces.
The technology of skateboard decks evolved into decks with diagonally slanted ends and concave borders. This allowed a skateboarder to bring a skateboard off the ground, with a scooping, sliding motion of the feet. This process, called the Ollie, is the first trick all street skateboarders must learn before they progress. This eventually led to the creation of flip tricks, variation tricks, and grinds tricks. When the Ollie became the primary stepping stone for progression, it opened the door for skateboarders to be able to skate any obstacle from stair sets, handrails, ledges, or anything architecture might offer.
Skateboarding naturally evolved into street skating, which involves utilizing any outdoor property. The slang term skateboarders use to describe a skate obstacle is a spot. If there is nothing to skate, a skateboarder can use a parking lot to progress their flat ground tricks. Even a pizza box out a dumpster can be used to do tricks over. Absolutely anything can be used by a skateboarder to perfect their craft. Skateboarding is not limited to ramps or half pipes like most people believe. A bench at a bus stop can be used for grind tricks. What people see as a rail to guide them down a set of stairs is seen as a handrail to grind on by a skateboarder. Skateboarders view everything they see outdoors as a potential skate spot, regardless if people agree with it or not. Skateboarding is past the era of skating just pools and ramps. Martial Arts have evolved to the creation of the UFC and MMA league. The sport of racing has evolved to drag racing, NASCAR, street racing, and even drifting, where drivers get paid to spin out in cars. If racing can get a pass to evolve to different counter sports, with corporations financially supporting it, why can’t skateboarding get a pass? Its 2013 and skateboarder’s deserve to have more freedom.
The consequences skateboarders face for skating in the streets has gotten out of hand. In a lot of states, skateboarders face unnecessary consequences for skating public property other than a skate park. In San Francisco California, skateboarders can be ticketed and fined just for riding their skateboards on sidewalks, even for transportation purposes. According to Section 7.2.13 in the San Francisco Municipal Code, a skateboard is classified as a Non-motorized user propelled vehicle (NUV). Part A1 and A2 of section 7.2.13 specifically states that NUV’s are prohibited “to ride on sidewalks,… to ride a NUV upon a sidewalk in any business district within the city, and to ride a NUV upon any street in any business district within the city (7.2.13)”. This law basically bans skateboarders from skateboarding on public sidewalks and roads, for any purpose. In Washington D.C, police officers can legally tase a skateboarder, arrest a skateboarder, and confiscate their skateboard if they feel it’s necessary. What most cops say when telling skaters to leave is that they are vandalizing and destroying property. How much truth does that statement hold? A skateboarder doing a trick over a stair set will cause nearly no damage to its terrain at all. It’s not like the ground will break or the concrete will crack. If someone jumped down a stair set a bunch of times with their feet, no one would complain. Yet doing it with a skateboard is equivalent to that when it comes to causing damage. In the article “The Outlaw Collective: Skateboarding and Social Interaction” by Andrew Nelson, the author makes a valid point on how skateboarding is not a destruction of property, contrary to what most people believe.
When a skateboarder skate’s a hand rail or a ledge, the most damage a skater can do is wax it with candle wax so it will allow a skateboard to slide or grind smoother across the surface. Nelson stated that “Skateboarders must put wax on the ledges, benches, and other things to be able to grind them. This wax lets the skateboard slide across the concrete, effectively avoiding chipping and cracking…Again, an argument may be made that this is defacing the property. However, if someone happens to drive their tires along a curb, they aren’t harassed or arrested. Driving car tires along a curb has the same rounding effect as skateboards and leaves a black buildup as well”.
Skateboarders also face unnecessary police brutality for skating in the streets. Police agencies across the country have exercised their power beyond necessary to prevent skateboarders from using public space. One You Tube video that has gained over 6 million views, shows a 14 year old skateboarder getting humiliated and bullied around by a Police Officer in Baltimore, MD. According to an August 2010 article from The Baltimore Sun, Officer Salvatore Rivieri was suspended and later fired for his actions towards 14 year old Eric Bush, who was skateboarding with his friends on July 1, 2007. Rivieri approached the group of skateboarders and singled Bush out.
He took Bush’s skateboard and choked the innocent kid to the ground. Rivieri later threatened Bush by saying “someone’s going to kill you if you keep talking like that”, referring to Bush calling him a “dude” instead of his name. Rivieri also threatened to smack Bush if he kept talking the way he did, even when nothing harmful was said by him. Incidents like these occur all the time for skateboarders. Police treat skateboarding as if it is something criminal when in fact there are bigger issues to worry about such as gangs, drug users, or people driving cars under the influence of alcohol.
There are legitimate reasons why society should not be mad at skateboarders for utilizing public property. There are many college students that skateboard on a daily basis. If a college student who plays basketball wants to shoot some hoops, they can go to their school’s recreation center and there will be plenty of hoops. College campuses have courts and fields for just about every major sport except skateboarding. There is a basketball court at about every college but barely any skate parks. If a college student who skateboards decides to go skate, where else do you expect them to go if there isn’t any local skate park around. If there is a heavily waxed ledge on campus that has been skated before, why is it wrong to go skate that ledge. Is it really vandalism to do tricks on that ledge that is already waxed up? It’s not like people won’t be able to sit on it after it’s been skated. People can still use a hand rail to guide them down a stair set after a skateboarder has done a trick on it.
The business aspect of skateboarding could not survive if it wasn’t for skating on public property. Professional skateboarder’s make video parts from spots they skate in the street, not at a park. A skateboarding company with a team of pro skaters could not make money if they put out videos of their sponsored skaters skating only skate parks. Skate parks are fun and convenient, but most skaters utilize skate parks just for practicing tricks to prepare them to skate actual street spots. Some professional skateboarders even pay security guards to allow them to skate a spot for a certain amount of time.
Skateboarding will continue to evolve and grow as years go by. The technology in skateboards is increasing and will only get better with time.
Skateboarding is getting more recognition on a national level. It is not up there with major sports such as basketball or football but it is growing with more opportunities for skateboarders to develop their careers. There will always be more skate parks built but there will never be as much skate parks as there are basketball courts, tennis courts, etc. Skateboarding grew off of skating in the streets. If it grew up on that culture, how is a police officer telling a skater he can’t skate a spot going to change that. Skateboarders will forever roam the streets and skate street obstacles because it is all we have. It is the only way for it to survive. It is the only way for it to become as popular as it is now. The world is a skateboarder’s playground. Skateboarding does not cause nearly as much harm to the environment as much as people perceive it to be.
Nelson, Andy. “The Outlaw Collective: Skateboarding and Social Interaction”. (2010). 27+. Google Scholar. Web. 24 April 2013. City and County of San Francisco. American Legal Publishing Corporation. “San Francisco Transportation Code, Sec 7.2.13” . Cincinnati Ohio: 6 Mar 2013. Web. 25 Apr 2013. Hermann, Peter. “City police officer who berated skateboarder fired.” Baltimore Sun 25 Aug 2010. Web. 25 Apr 2013.