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Skateboarding in the Olympics?

The discussion seems to have shifted from "should" to "when"

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ASR13

Gary Ream discusses the future of Skateboarding in the Olympics

Jeremy Slocum
The discussion about skateboarding in the Olympics has been going on for quite some time, with a lot of energy behind it. Lately however, the discussion has changed from "Should skateboarding be in the Olympics?" to "When will skateboarding enter the Olympics?".

Many skaters are concerned that if skateboarding becomes an Olympic sport, the heart of skating will be changed. Skateboarding is an individualistic and independent activity, and many feel that if it is forced into the mold of the Olympics, it will lose its edge and change into something mainstream.

The International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC) held an open meeting at ASR in the fall of 2004, and I was fortunate enough to be there. They discussed many things, but the most heated topic was skateboarding becoming an Olympic sport. Gary Ream, president of the USA Skateboarding Association led the discussion. "We're Damned if we do, damned if we don't," said Ream. He explained that if the world of skateboarding doesn't pull together and enter the Olympics on purpose, someone else will eventually succeed in entering it, and then we will have no influence over what it will look like. "It's going to happen with or without us," Ream explained.

The difficulty is that skateboarding is fiercely independent. Therefore, there is no one single governing body for the sport. In fact, Ream even discussed that they aren't entirely sure they want to call skateboarding a sport. Perhaps instead it should be an exhibition.

Without one leading organization, many small groups have tried over the years to claim the title of Skateboarding's Ruling Body. USA Roller Sports (USARS) was one of the loudest, but plenty of these groups didn't even have anything to do with skateboarding! Roller blade organizations, television networks - Clarkie from Real Skate even says she knows of a soccer organization that tried to lay the claim.

On July 19th, 2004 a meeting of skaters from all of the planet was held in Dortmund, Germany to talk about forming an "International Skateboarding Federation". After much debate, the ISF was voted on and formed. The ISF is now taking the position and talking with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about skating becoming an Olympic sport. However, before skateboarding can be added, Gary Ream explained that a sport would have to be removed from the Olympics to make room. Apparently there is a limit on the number of medals that can be awarded, and the Olympics is currently at that limit.

Unfortunately, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not recognize an international skateboarding federation. And so, skateboarding would have to be added as a discipline under another umbrella. The process is complicated and long, but it's in the works, and a lot of people are highly invested in making it happen.

"The IOC wants to make the program relevant for young people," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said, according to Yahoo Sports. "We are doing our best to introduce skateboarding for 2012," UCI sports director Olivier Quejuiner told the London Evening Standard. "We have a clear strategy ... The venue could be wonderful. All we need now is the green light from the IOC. Technically, logistically and in terms of cost, it would not be a problem to stage the event in 2012."

However, now 2016 seems more likely. The UCI, the group that decides these things, still hasn't rendered a decision, and things are still very much up in the air. As you can see, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. But, the discussion is no longer should skateboarding enter the Olympics, but when, and what will it look like.

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