Skateboarding is an activity that can get the adrenaline flowing for anyone that tries it. Whether it’s cruising on a new pavement, landing a trick down a set of stairs, or getting an ollie down for the first time, it gives you a rush that few activities can match.
So it goes without saying that people quickly fell in love with it, and a handful became some of the most talented skaters on the planet. People from all corners of the earth flocked to youtube to see what tricks others could pull off.
And with this, the idea of skateboarding being a sport was born. However, for all the awesome and jaw-dropping moments that competitive skating has provided us with, it also comes with a history of bans, critics, and headwinds.
Skateboarding’s Rocky Past
Thanks to a recently released documentary called “Foul Play”, many have begun to grow fascinated with the history of pro skateboarding. One of the most notable events to occur was the Norway skateboarding ban from 1978-1989.
Due to a large number of injuries that were related to skateboarding in 1977 across the world, Norway decided it was unsafe for its citizens. They passed a law that banned the sale of skateboards and the promotion of skateboarding.
In essence, if you wanted to skateboard in Norway, you had to go rogue. While most of the public interest died off, some still skated where they could. People began constructing half pipes in the forest just to have a reliable skating place.
Towards the end of the 1980s, the laws began to be more relaxed. Current political members realized the previous ban may have been a bit extreme and when 1989 came around they decided to remove it completely.
With its reintroduction to the public, skateboarding quickly became popular again. In just over 30 years we have seen skateboarding go from being banned across the country to being done throughout Oslo. While the ban may not be Norway’s proudest move, it has provided skateboarding with some unique history. Moreover, Norway’s subsequent re-introduction has created plenty of opportunities to showcase the sport since then. Including being one of the regular hosts of the X-Games.
Skateboarding coming to 2021
Currently, skateboarding can be seen around the world. Local skaters are constantly uploading some incredible tricks to social media and pro competitions can be seen easily on many different media platforms.
2020 was supposed to be another historic year for skateboarding. That is because it was slated to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo for the Summer Olympics. The greatest talents in both park and street skating would have been on display for the world to see. A moment that the competitive skateboarding community has been requesting forever.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has halted the Olympics and delayed the debut of skateboarding. Since skateboarding was only added as an event for the 2020 games, many are beginning to wonder if it will even happen.
However, the fact remains that skateboarding is growing as a sport. The X-games in particular has done a great job with promoting the sport, and with the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics, it’s hard to argue otherwise.
How The X-Games is Legitimizing Competitive Skateboarding
The X-Games is currently seen as the mecca of professional skateboarding. It was first hosted in 1994 and has since been the home to the best in extreme sports.
Some of the most popular skating events at the X-Games include the halfpipe, a skatepark course, and the big air ramp. Consumer interest in the sport has grown year over year, with the 2019 X-Games being the most popular. It’s final weekend boasted an attendance of over one hundred and fifteen thousand.
The X-Games certainly didn’t disappoint either. Mitchie Brusco’s 1260 spin sticks out in particular. Which will likely be remembered amongst other great moments in the sport, including Tony Hawk’s 900.
Even though the X-Games has been very successful and beneficial for growing skateboarding (and other extreme sports), it has not been without criticism towards the sport. Some classic sport elitists still view it as simply a hobby.
The Debate Between Skateboarding As a Sport and Hobby
The best example to see how divisive the mindset towards skating is would be to look at fan reaction to skateboarding at the Olympics. When skateboarding as an event was initially announced, it was met with a mixed reaction. While enthusiasts couldn’t be more excited, the general population was much slower to embrace the activity.
Many claimed that it was just a hobby. Citing the kids that they saw standing around at the skatepark who were just there for fun. They also suggested that sports should involve running, jumping, a goal to score on, or incredible feats of athleticism. Some even highlighted the fact that anyone can move a few feet on a skateboard, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a sport.
The truth is, they are right to some extent. Skateboarding is something that anyone can pick up and do. You don’t need to be competitive to have fun with skateboarding. But there does seem to be a growing interest in the sport that needs to be embraced by the media. However, this won’t happen unless we can change our perception of the debate.
Why Is There a Debate?
The debate exists because skateboarding is still seen as relatively new. People will always be a bit cautious towards something new before it is widely accepted. However, we believe that the debate is beginning to happen less and less as competitive skateboarding continues to prosper. And this isn’t because one side is correct and one side is incorrect.
The great thing about skateboarding is that it can be a hobby and a sport. The greatest to ever do it, like Rodney Mullen or Tony Hawk, have pulled off tricks that require athleticism, practice, coordination, and many of the other attributes seen in other accepted sports. However, the average joe has found just as much enjoyment on a board, cruising and enjoying a beverage.
Skateboarding has a set style that allows some people to find the competitive nature and strive to compete for international acclaim. For others, it provides a chill hobby, whether that is cruising around town or filming your friend. Maybe instead of classifying it under one scope of the debate, it’s time to embrace all aspects of skateboarding.