What Skateboarding Is All About

Skateboarding probably means something different to just about everybody. There are the many different types of skateboarding, of course, but behind all of those are the various reasons people skate. Is it about freedom, creativity, athleticism? Or maybe it's more about breaking rules and taking risks? One thing's for sure: skateboarding is about all of these things and more. Here are just a few of the ideas that come to mind for me.

 

Skate and Create

For some, skating is all about discovery and creation, as in the expression, "skate and create." Skating is creative because there really aren't any rules...or goals, or boundaries, or referees. Sure, there are popular tricks that have names and established techniques. But much more than that, skating is about coming up with new tricks, or with new twists on old tricks. A big part of getting together with other skaters is showing off and sharing new tricks and building on others' ideas.  

Trial and Error

Creativity goes hand in hand with trying things over and over and over. It's so easy to just pick yourself up, flip your board upright and try again. Nothing's going to wear out (except maybe your body), so there's no reason not to keep trying. Every trick is mastered this way, no matter how good of a skater you are. 

Friendship

Skating with friends is more than just a fun way to hang out; it's also super motivating.

Just being around other skaters helps you push yourself to try harder and go bigger. To non-skaters passing by a skate park, it might look like most of what skaters do is stand around watch one another. And that's actually pretty accurate. You take your turn on the ramp or in the bowl, and everyone else watches.

Then it's the next skater's turn, and you're one of those who's watching. This dynamic adds some pressure, for sure, but it's a good kind of pressure; it gives you a little extra push, and since everyone's doing it, it brings skaters together.   

Being One of Us

One of the hallmarks of skater culture is inclusiveness and defense of our own. I remember a couple of years ago, hanging out at the skate park, and seeing a little black kid all padded up, trying to push along the edge of a bowl. He was trying hard, when he came across some older white kids. One of the teens looked down at the little grom (young beginner skater) and said, "New board?" The little kid lit up, and showed off his brand new Element complete skateboard. The older kids smiled, complimented it, and rode by. They were all skaters. That's all that mattered.

The Street

A skater's playing field is urban pavement (although for a few it's a frozen beach), and that gives skating a lot of its character. The street is always open. You can use it without having to pay or join an organized team or even ask anyone's permission. That sense of freedom and independence is at the heart of skateboarding. The street adds some danger (cars, hard falls, unseen cracks or rocks that send you flying), and it gets you out there (not cooped up in a windowless gym or crowded swimming pool).

 

The Skateboard Life

Any and all of these things could be the reason why skateboarding has remained so popular since it hit the scene in the 1960s. And it's not going away anytime soon. By the time the '80s rolled around, skateparks had seen their first heyday before most of them were torn up or filled with dirt and built over. But people kept skating, wherever they could. Now skateparks are way more legit and commonplace they ever were. The fact that city governments have accepted skateboarding doesn't change what it's all about. It only means there are more places to skate.