A couple of years ago, I received an e-mail from Kris in Australia asking, "Why is skateboarding so popular?" It's a good question - in a recent survey in the US, Skateboarding was found to be the 3rd most popular sport with teenagers, coming in just under football and basketball. Skateboarding is popular all over the planet, with pro-level competitions raging year-round, all across the globe.
So the question pops up - why? Why is skateboarding so popular?
Simple Self Expression
One reason is the simple anatomy of skateboarding. All you really need is yourself and a skateboard. Technically, you don't even need shoes! The skateboard itself is fairly low cost, especially if you don't need a "top of the line" skateboard. Plus, anyone can try skateboarding. It doesn't matter if you are fat or thin, short or tall, young or old - there's a board and a style that will work for you. Skateboarding is all about self expression. If you are a slow, soulful guy, it will show in your skateboarding style. If you want everything fast, that will show. If you're a dare devil, if you're graceful, or if you're comical, it will all come out in your skateboarding. Being yourself, learning the tricks and developing the style that is all you - that's easily one of the biggest reasons that skateboarding is popular.
Which melds into another reason that skateboarding is so popular - the punk movement. Big business, modernism, established rules and regulations - a huge chunk of the western-influenced planet got sick of it all, and punk was born. Loud angry music, spikes, piercings, tattoos, and skateboarding - it all came together. Skateboarding is hard, and you have to be tough in order to learn. Skateboarding also has no rules. Anything goes. You can do what you want, be who you want, tell the world off. It's no wonder that skateboarding and punk go together well.
But not just punks skateboard. Some skaters are only a little punk, some are jocks, some are nerds, some are Goth, and many don't fit into a box. But they are all "skaters". They have all picked up a skateboard, given it a shot, and loved it. There's something a little different about real skaters. And that is another reason skateboarding is so popular - skateboarding will take anyone, as long as you have the heart. You can suck at skateboarding but as long as you really try, and as long as you love skating, you're in. And most skaters get along pretty well, considering who knows what else they're into. At the skatepark I've seen my fair share of jerks, but I've also seen a shocking number of cool people. Older skaters encouraging younger skaters, good skaters giving tips to crappy skaters, and total strangers getting along, hanging out and having fun. There's plenty of attitude, but not all of it is negative. I think that this willingness to take anyone, as long as they truly try, is a another big reason why skateboarding is so popular.
Adrenaline and Awe
But you really do have to try, and skateboarding can hurt. In fact, you are almost guaranteed that you WILL
get hurt! It comes with the board. This sense of danger, and the fact that if you DO pull off a good trick, that means that you are both good at something difficult and you've paid for it in blood. This pride and sense of danger has a lot to do with skateboarding's popularity. Non-skaters love to watch it for these same reasons! Skateboarding is just the skateboarder and his skateboard. No ropes, unattached, flipping and spinning through the air and along the ground. You gotta respect that.
Skate and Create
Skateboarding tricks are all invented by someone. Someone out there first came up with each trick, and skaters will always be able to create their own tricks. This is partly due to skateboarding being relatively new, but only partly. The fact that the skater and his skateboard aren't connected, plus the nature of the skateboard's design, mean that the possibilities are truly endless! Skaters will always be inventing and creating new tricks. Skateboarding will always evolve. Even if there was only one skater on the planet, skateboarding would advance, progress, and evolve. This ability to always progress into something new and fresh is another reason that skateboarding is so popular.
Wholesome Family Fun
And finally, my last and most important reason skateboarding is so popular - skateboarding is fun
. The feeling of riding your board down a hill or over transition at the park can't be beat. The feeling of landing a new trick is a huge rush. The feeling of weightlessness, of fading into pure motion, of pushing yourself and ONLY yourself ... this is all easily the largest reason for skateboarding's popularity. Yeah skateboarding will hurt, but all things worth while involve some level of risk and pain. Skateboarding is freedom and self expression. Skaters out there know, and if you haven't skated, you should try. There's nothing like it.