Skateboarding has a magical ability to ignite a spark in people. New recruits are intrigued by the prospects of freedom and speed. Before they actually ride, many people are both fascinated and filled with a little bit of trepidation. That’s a powerful mix and I’ve seen it countless time in my 43 years of rolling. It doesn’t take much to get kids interested. They experiment and play and begin to experience the immediate joy that skateboarding gives. Truly a magical moment.
Skateboarding is something that you can enjoy alone, but also works great with fellow participants. Much has been written about the pleasures that skateboarding offers, and I don’t need to repeat what most of us know.
Skaters can be defined as being tribal-like and within our tribe we have full spectrum of participants.
The way I see it, you have about 5 key types of skaters:
1. Occasionally – less than 10 times per year
2. A few times a month
3. A few times a week
4. Pretty much daily
5. Totally freaking obsessed
I confess to being part of the 4 and 5 group. There are times when I literally cannot stop thinking about skateboarding. When it’s cold and snowy for months at a time, you get cabin fever. During the summer, if I am not out there daily, I get pretty anxious too. All that asphalt and sunshine beckons me something fierce.
Photos, left to right: A skater from the Netherlands; fingerboarding in Leipzig; and the friendly fellow behind Legende Longboards. I believe these were all taken by Michael on his recent trip to ISPO.
But no matter where you wind up on the spectrum, the fact is that you will encounter those who might rub you the wrong way. Oddly enough, skateboarding has a history of this that can be traced right back to the film SkaterDater. In that extra-ordinary movie, the group of skaters have issues with one of their tribal members running off with a girl. Even back in 1965, skaters were attempting to regulate other skaters.
Fellow skaters can be dismissive of “other” types of skateboarding. They seem to relish putting others down. It’s a power trip. It’s about vibing out others. And it’s total bullshit.
You see, the way I look at things, we’re all on the same damn side. To the outside public, a longboarder, a slalom skateboard, and a street skateboard is all the same thing: skateboarding. When you see fellow skaters thumb their noses at other types of skateboarding, it just feels wrong. I sense sometimes these folks take great pleasure in making others feel like crap. There is no excuse for this type of behaviour. Ironically enough, I’ve seen that some of the most prejudicial skaters wind up leaving skateboarding. I call that karma.
It’s simple formula. If you derive joy from skateboarding, then it’s your opportunity to bring this joy to others. Please pay attention to my words. I didn’t say responsibility, I said opportunity. It’s a choice we make. Do you want to increase joy in people’s lives, or do you want to de-stoke them? That choice is up to you to make.
That’s my take on inclusion. We are a tribe. We have many different members within this tribe. Respect and tolerance for others will enhance your journey within skateboarding. Now you know this, get out there and ride!