“It’s the cops! RUN!”
That was a very common thing to yell amongst my group of friends when we were 13-16 years old. We didn’t know how we’d be punished if we were caught and we didn’t want to find out. Would it be a fine? Jailtime? Would they take our tools away?
Were we robbers breaking into homes and businesses? No. In this case our “tools” were skateboards. We were a bunch of kids that weren’t interested in anything else but skateboarding. All day, every day.
It’s nearly impossible for a non-skater to understand our obsession. Skateboarding is truly unlike anything else. On the surface, it’s a demanding physical activity that requires discipline and practice. But it’s SO much more.
Most physical activity can be categorized as a sport: basketball, hockey, football, baseball. Skateboarding lacks the team aspect of the aforementioned, which makes it even more particular. Skateboarding has an entire culture around it, with art, music, fashion, and even language that’s exclusive. It’s relatively inexpensive to get into and can be practiced, to some degree at least, almost anywhere at any time.
This is why it’s so hard for the layperson to understand. It’s never been an Olympic sport and may never be. Even skateboarding competitions go against the grain– many of them are judged by the riders themselves.
To me, skateboarding is not just a hobby. It’s something that my life revolves around. I’ve worked in the skateboard industry, I try to ride my skateboard as much as possible, and I talk about skateboarding probably every day. Hell, I’m writing this damn blog about it.
It’s crazy to me that the thing I’m most passionate about is frowned upon by so many. And that I had to get together with a small group of people to start a group that speaks out to try to allow myself and others to practice this passion.
Non-skaters don’t understand. They see grown men hanging out with teenagers and it’s strange to them. This is one of the great things about skateboarding– it smashes down barriers like age, gender, religion, race, and things that might otherwise segregate people. It’s second nature for me to join in on a game of SKATE with skaters far younger than me, or yell, “Yeah!” when I see a skater land a trick whether I know them or not.
It’s sad that to this day I’m uneasy around police officers. I must admit, it’s a little embarrassing running from police or security guards that are far younger than me. I’ve been skateboarding for over 25 years and I still feel like I’m doing something wrong every time my feet hit my griptape.