Over the past decade skateboarding has broken barriers of how we define competition. Many claim that skateboarding, at its deepest root is anything but a sport. What I will discuss here covers an in-depth understanding of what skateboarding is, how it changed my life and the millions around the world.
Skateboarding is considered an action sport. Many, including myself, define skateboarding as anything but that. To a great extent, the subculture embodies a style deep in creativity, and artistic talent unique to each individual.
Not too long ago skateboarding developed slowly into mainstream media, and until recently has been embraced as an official Olympic sport. This comes as good news to some, others aren’t too fond of the idea. Today, I’ll discuss the brief history of skateboarding, competitions, and a bit on the subculture.
A Brief History Of Skateboarding
- One of the first “skateboards” would be nothing more than a plank of wood, or box attached on bottom were roller skates, which coined the name known as “sidewalk surfer”.
- They held the earliest competition in Hermosa Beach, California, sponsored by Makaha. This is where slalom style skating became popular, skating downhill, weaving in between cones chasing for fastest lap.
- A drought in California in early 75’ and 76’ gave a perfect opportunity for a skater to jump fences and skate empty pools, and drainage ditches which beat handmade ramps propped on the trunk of parents cars.
- “Skateboarder Magazine” became published, leading into the development that spread worldwide.
- The late 70s brought a movement to build skateparks as popularity started to climb.
- Frank Nasworthy developed the first wheel from polyurethane, creating the brand “Cadillac Wheels”. Growth in the industry gave birth to the evolution of the board including hardware and accessories.
- The popularity of skateboarding slowed down through the years until the late 80s when vert skating came on the scene.
- Skateboarding was in a slump in the early part of the 90s due to the recession as skateboard distributors couldn’t keep up production and the rapid decline in popularity.
- National television allowed the world to broadcast events such as the X-Games in 1995, with Tony Hawk landing the first 900. A massive comeback was made that continues to this very day.
- Since the day I began skateboarding in 1999 at the age of 10, I’ve seen the industry change in terms of a better technology in products in shoes and boards.
- By far the largest transformations has been the evolution of the internet. A decade ago we bought skate videos at the shop, now everything is online which has drawback on small businesses trying to compete with larger retailers.
- Overall, skateboarding has progressed to a point where becoming a professional skateboarder seems impossible. So many mind blowing tricks have been displayed its ridiculous.
Popular Skateboarding Competitions
X-Games The X-Games, hosted by ESPN network is one of the biggest action sport competitions in the world. This event has brought together fearless competitors in other areas such as BMX, motocross, and snowboarding to name a few. The first launch took place in Rhode Island back in 1995, attracting 200,000 people with roughly 10 million dollars spent by ESPN. With the massive success, its growth has continued.
It has only been over a decade since street league began back in 2010. An event founded by professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek. Unlike X-Games, street league is solely focused on skateboarding, drafting 25 of the best skaters in the world.
Mountain Dew Tour
Back in 2005, Mountain Dew started a country-wide tour which brings together skateboarders, snowboarders, skiers, and artists from all over to events. In 2016, the publisher of major skateboard magazine “Transworld Skateboarding” combined efforts to assist with event planning, and bring people together.
Finally… on August 3rd, 2016 the IOC approved five new action sports to be added, oh yes… that includes skateboarding! There’s also the possibility for a return in 2024’s Paris Olympics. The anticipation has many of us eager as we witness history unfold upon us.
The Olympics began in over 120 years ago in 1896 and is a leader known for the most famous international sporting event in the world. According to Statista, the last event drew more than 3.5 billion viewers. With the addition of skateboarding, we will see karate, sport climbing, surfing, baseball, softball, and speed climbing.
King of the Road
Presented by THRASHER Magazine, KOTR is a contest in which three teams, divided by sponsors are given challenges to complete for prizes. Teams will travel cross country to complete each challenge over a two-week period.
Bust Or Bail
Also presented by THRASHER, one of my favorite mini contests where skaters gather to face up against legendary skateboarding landmarks to see who can pull off the best trick. This is one favorite of mine I find myself frequently re-watching because of the insanity going down. If you’re into cringe worthy, yet jaw dropping bangers… this will get you hyped!
We can consider The Skatepark Of Tampa as one of the most well known skatepark in the world. They hold amateur and professional contest every year, with the first competition won by Mike V in 1995. The park is featured in Tony Hawk Underground (my personal favorite) as well.
Maloof Money Cup
The MMC was a skateboarding contest founded by Joe and Gavin Maloof that ran from 2008 to 2012. There was quite a bit of controversy that developed, which left the brothers hosting the event in Kimberly, South Africa.
The Maloof family are large investors who over the years owned basketball teams, casinos, even sponsored production of Skate 3. Both brothers ran this event with the vision to raise awareness, and attract people to the skateboarding scene.
This event offered the largest cash prizes in contest history of $160,000 to one winner. With money to spend, it was easy to attract attention.
In an interview with Rolling Stones Magazine, pro skateboarder Chris Cole responds when asked about controversy between him and Maloof Money Cup owners.
“There’s a lingering controversy involving you and the Maloof Money Cup. The owners put up a million-dollar offer, potentially to lure you to their contest. Is that offer still on the table? Rob Dyrdek created Street League, a competitive skate tour that signed its riders to exclusivity [deals], and prevented them from competing in the MMC contests. It put massive pressure on the Maloofs to find skaters who could draw an audience. So they announced this reward–$1 million to anyone who could win four Maloof Money Cup contests in a row. It’s stupid number, and clearly directed to steal me back, since I had already won three contests in a row. But what they didn’t anticipate was for Rob to graciously let me skate their contest, in an attempt to take their money, and still honor my agreement with Street League. So yeah, there is actually a written agreement in place with the Maloof Money Cup stating that if they ever host another skateboarding competition in the United States, they have to offer me the opportunity to win the million bucks. That’s probably why they only hold their competition in South Africa and will not likely hold another competition here in the U.S.”
The Subculture Of Skateboarding
As we diverge into the subculture of skateboarding, I want to reveal why it’s not about competition, nor based on athletic talent. For over ten years I’ve been skateboarding and by no means consider myself an “athlete”. Many skaters don’t participate competition, rather for individual expression.
The Identity Of A Skateboarder
We begin our journey by challenging ourselves by learning new tricks, developing our style of skating. There are virtually no boundaries that persuade us to follow certain rules, follow specific guidelines, or dress a certain way. We as skateboarders value freedom of expression through our style of skating which separates us from anybody else.
With traditional sports, you are confined to learn only so much. Because of the progressive nature of skateboarding, you have limitless possibilities with nobody telling you otherwise. Most skateboarders don’t participate in competitions, and for those that do, aren’t competing against anyone but themselves. They are focused on how to improve their runs and take home bigger scores.
There is no “I’m better than you” mentality for the most part. We find the challenge in improving our performance through consistent effort and learning new tricks. Often, I’d find that “Ah ha!” moment where finally understanding how to lock a trick and remember how amazing that sensation is.
I don’t know how to describe the emotion, but at the park showing off a new trick people aren’t used to seeing that took months to learn… is pure bliss. There is no better feeling drawing in attention to get other skateboarders stoked.
The Many Types Of Skateboards
I’m sure you know what a skateboard is, but not everyone wants to learn tricks, or find themselves at the skatepark. Yet another reason skateboarding is progressive by opening a door to those seeking alternative means of transportation.
Types Of Skateboards:
Popsickle (for trick style skating)
Old Skool (Transition/pool skating)
Cruisers (Commuting/Basic tricks can be done)
- Penny/nickle (smallest type of cruiser)
Longboards (Used for downhill racing and cruising long distances)
Electric Skateboards (Type of skateboard powered by electric motor)
One-Wheel (Off shoot electric skateboard that covers off-road terrain)
Is Skateboarding Considered An Art Form?
Art form : “An undertaking or activity enhanced by a high level of skill or refinement.” So, in essence skateboarding can be considered an art form in many ways.
The first thing gets me going is watching someone with amazing style or “steeze”. To the average person who doesn’t skate, won’t understand this. This in a sense defines how one looks while performing tricks. Some skaters pop tricks with no effort, while others position their bodies in a way that’s unique and looks badass. To me, it’s a part of skateboarding difficult to master, to be honest I hate my style, then again I’m not concerned with others opinions.
What separates every skateboarder is how they skate, how we visualize our surroundings. Not many people walk past handrails (even if they’re not skateable) and get turned on by it. Seriously, daydreaming about skateboarding is no joke! Everyone has their unique perspective, you make it whatever you want.
How Hard Is Skateboarding?
In the beginning, learning how to skateboard is comparable to learning how to ride a bike, ski, or snowboard. The most challenging part is learning how to balance and coordinating your body by shifting weight evenly over the board. Like riding a bike, trying to center weight while propping feet on pedals all at the same time without falling… is never easy at first. After mastering riding on a board while moving, you can start learning tricks. (This is the challenge)
Fear is overwhelming. So much that it can be a deal breaker for those not used to falling and smashing your body on the ground constantly. Another reason longboarding or mini-cruisers are a great alternative for those who want to learn to ride and not worry about that often.
Professional level skateboarding is something I cannot wrap my head around. So, I’ll put it this way. To learn how to ride a skateboard, anyone can do in a couple days or weeks, amateur and professional level is extremely difficult but not impossible!
The Future Of Skateboarding
The future of skateboarding will continue to grow and develop, with new tricks, brands, and professionals. A deeper development in technology might eventually evolve into a realistic hover board, the possibilities are endless! My current perspective is hopes the Olympics inspire generations of men, woman, and children to join a lifestyle that will change their lives. In a final word, skateboarding has changed my life by attracting great people, perspectives, and the best stress reliever ever.