Skateboarders: From Troublemakers to Trendsetters

As the new year settles in, one can expect to see a few new trends that are taking the younger, and possibly older generations by storm.  In the past years we’ve had fidget spinners, selfie-sticks, and most recently, the Tik Tok app shine through the saturated market of trends and make their way to the top of the trendy pyramid. If you’ve been paying attention, or at least take a look at some of the trends from the past few years, you’ll notice that slowly but surely skateboarding has been making its way to the top of the trendy list. I’m not just talking about people buying skateboards, I’m talking about the culture in general. In this generation, Skateboarding culture has a lot more influence on fashion, outdoor activities (it became an Olympic event), and even became the topic of a feature-length film in 2018. More and more celebrities are wearing skateboarding brands, and skateboarding as a whole is becoming more prominent in mainstream culture. I have no issue with skating hogging the lime-light, but when an outside culture gets brought into the mainstream, there tends to be some accurate representation along with some misrepresentation especially when a lot of people are quick to jump on the trendy bandwagon.

I’ve been skateboarding since I was eleven years old, and seeing the skateboard culture get more recognition as a sport, community, and less as a criminal activity, or something for troublemakers makes my heart happy. Yet, I still think there can be misrepresentation in mainstream media about skateboarders. I believe that social media allows skaters to share their creative abilities, music taste, fashion, and other activities with a much larger audience on a much more personal level, which helps represent skaters for who they actually are. The representation that I don’t agree with is how movies, T.V. shows, and commercials represent skateboarders. They consistently make skaters seem cheesy, stupid, and kind of loser-ish.

Now I’m not saying all movies, T.V. shows, and commercials do this, but a majority still represent the skating culture in a pretty inaccurate way.  In the well-known T.V. show Better Call Saul, one of the first episodes features a pair of skaters, who look like they should be in an ad for Target, whose main source of income were faking injuries and grabbing cash from the people who hit them. This is just one example, but I can tell you for a fact in all of my 15 years of skateboarding I’ve never once met a skater who has attempted some sort of fraud like that.  I know it’s just a fictional T.V. show, but in my opinion it links criminal activity to skateboarders which is not a proper representation at all. It would have made much more sense to have someone who is completely down on their luck attempt something like this. A person that has nothing to lose would be the one attempting a scam like that, not two random skateboarders.  This is just one example of how skateboarding can be misrepresented in the mainstream media, and like I mentioned it’s usually T.V. shows, movies, etc.

Even though there are still misconceptions about the skating culture, I must also take a moment to appreciate the advancements skateboarding has made, especially going from an activity that would get you kicked out of parking lots, to an actual Olympic sport. This is a huge step forward for the culture, and could lead to more skateparks and a more friendly view of the skating community, since the recognition worldwide would be even greater!

Hopefully this introduction into the Olympics will also lead to more coverage on the sport. Right now if you were to look on the Internet at a sports column, you’d most likely see your main sports; basketball, football, baseball, and hockey. There’s no coverage about skateboarding, so in order for an outsider to learn more about the sport and culture, they would have to visit one of the niche websites that is made by skaters. Basically, it’s not as easy to research as it is with football and other mainstream sports, but being added to the Olympics might change that.

As for information on skateboarding, I would follow as many skateboarders and skate brands on Instagram as possible, because this is the easiest way to hear directly from the company and skaters and see what their daily lives entail. I personally follow a lot of companies and skaters that are located on the East coast. Since I’ve never been there and have no idea what the skating scene and culture is like, this gives me a taste of what I could expect if I’m ever able to shred the streets of New York or any other city. Another great website to use would be Slap Magazine,  because it’s a message board for skaters, created by skaters. This is where I find the newest information on skate rumors, clothing coming out, premiers of skating video parts, etc. It’s really easy to navigate and you don’t have to have an account to read the forums, which makes it easy for someone who just wants a taste of what the community is like. The last place I go for a taste of the skating world and to grow my skating knowledge is a YouTube channel/ Podcast called, “The Nine Club.” This is a podcast and YouTube channel put on by a group of talented pro skateboarders that have been in the industry for a while, and they’ll interview other skaters, talk about recent skate videos that came out, and discuss between each other common topics in the skate industry right now. This channel also falls under the, “created by skater for skaters,” category, so the information received and subjects talked about are usually really interesting to the skateboarding community as a whole.  If you want to know anymore about skateboarding, I would try any of the previously mentioned sites first, and they’ll give you inspiration to dive deeper into a specific area of the industry.

From what I’ve seen, skateboarding is only getting more popular and slowly crawling its way up the trendy pyramid. Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but with more people seeing it as trendy, the easier it is for the culture to get lost. As with any culture, you can’t just jump right in and feel like you know it like the back of your hand; it takes time to understand and knowledge on the subject. So, if you’re interested in skateboarding, be sure to visit one of the sites listed and don’t rely on what the T.V. shows you.