Every four years when the Summer Olympics are all up in our faces, the exact same question circulates among all of my skateboard friends and probably all of the skateboard enthusiasts worldwide. That question being, should skateboarding be included in the Olympics? Most old-guard skate nerds will emphatically state that skateboarding has no place in the Olympics. Period. Their reasoning is that skateboarding isn't a sport, so it shouldn't be treated as such. Really? Skateboarding isn't a sport? Let's see… does skateboarding have teams, contests, lucrative sponsorship endorsements, uniforms (don't kid yourself here, there are only about four accepted skateboard uniforms and if you're under 25 I guarantee you adhere to one of them), trade journals, agents, sports writers (ahem…), professional equipment, etc., blah, blah, blah? True, at one time skateboarding was a beautiful weird subculture that existed outside of mainstream sports. It was a glorious time and we all reflect on it fondly.
As a skateboard illustrator, I'm hyper aware of the fact that traditional skateboard graphics are quickly transitioning from unique designs to logo-driven color ways.
I only bring this up because it seems to me that the skateboard deck as an art object is quickly transitioning into just another piece of sporting goods equipment. In ten years you probably won't even need color variants. Just your logo on a board should suffice. I'm not trying to bust balls here, it makes way more financial sense to use the same graphic ten times in row vs. paying an illustrator to reinvent the wheel each step of the way. If my skateboard brand were more successful I'd probably be doing the same thing. So like I said, I'm not laying blame. All I'm trying to do is explain why I don't think it's that big of a deal for skateboarding to be in the Olympics. Since it's becoming a mainstream sport anyway.
How is the Olympics any different than the X-Games? Or the Dew Tour? Or the Maloof Money Cup? Or the Street League? All of which are events that have successfully lured well-respected skateboard men (and boys) into their televised fold. To me the only difference is that the Olympics have way more toned female buns in beach volleyball bikinis, and I just don't see how that can be a negative.
Let me be specific here for a second though: Street skateboarding? Not in the Olympics. Vert and mega ramp? In the Olympics. Modern vert and mega ramp are essentially gymnastics on wheels anyway, so why not include them? Spins, flips, twists, tucks, extensions, etc. It's basically snowboarding on a Skatelite. No need to pick apart style, you either landed the 1080 or you didn't. It's not magic.
Sponsored skateboarders are already accustomed to decorating their boards with their sponsors' stickers as if they were riding tiny un-motorized Nascar toys, and most top-tier pros have some kind of energy drink headgear stipulations in their contracts. So why not seal the deal and include those five multi-colored rings into the skateboard sponsorship reality?
Oh yeah, that's right… because most pro skateboarders are on drugs. My bad. Thanks for blowing it, dudes. We could have been contenders.
Rollerblading? Anybody still do that?
Previously - Guided Tours of the Skate Spots in my Neighborhood