It’s probably no longer a surprise to hear that skateboarding will be featured in the Olympics in 2020. Many people in the skateboard community, myself included, are rightfully weary of watching their sole passion be plucked from obscurity and displayed on the world’s stage. For so long, skateboarding has been “our thing”, but there’s no denying the inevitable, we can’t keep skateboarding for ourselves forever.
But is that true -and if so- is that necessarily a bad thing? Look, I’ll be the first one to say that the idea of watching “Team USA” compete for flawless kickflip fakies in matching jumpsuits makes my stomach churn. But as much as we’d like to direct the path that skateboarding takes (don’t “sell out”, don’t become “corporate”), we don’t have that sort of control, nor should we. Skateboarding is as much “mine” as it is “ours”.
Even though our little community went through a panic when the Olympic news broke, we shouldn’t be surprised. Skateboarding has been growing in popularity, and it's impossible to ignore. Spiderman skates now, everyone and their mother wears Thrasher, and seemingly every rapper alive has held a skateboard as a fashion statement. Connect the dots and you might wonder why it’s taken the Olympics this long to let us in. I mean, compared to synchronized swimming, curling, and that one where they dress the horse up in fancy clothes, its a no brainer.
But still, seeing this change can be unnerving. Skateboarding is my outlet, its my friend, and it’s been there for me since I was twelve. Skateboarding is special because it feels like it’s mine, and to see it portrayed poorly in pop culture feels like letting the world in on a treasured secret. We as skaters like to believe that we discovered skateboarding as if it was buried underground. But for the vast majority of us it's pop culture that found skating for us. I’ll admit it, I didn’t know who Tony Hawk was until I saw him in a Burger King commercial.
So maybe skateboarding in the Olympics isn’t such a bad thing. If a fast food commercial can light the spark for twelve year old me, imagine what the Olympics can do. Sure there will probably be a “head coach” for Team USA, which sucks. But there will also be countless future skate-rats that will see skating for the first time in 2020 and inevitably fall in love with it. And yeah I admit the idea of skating in a uniform is lame, but at least now you can tell the security guard that you’re an Olympian in training when he tries to kick you out of a spot.
So what do you think? Surely skateboarding deserves to be in the Olympics, but does sharing it with the rest of the world make skateboarding mean any less to you? If you’ve made it this far into my rambling then I guess I should give you my thought: Skateboarding will always be “our thing” and with the the help of the Olympics and pop culture, skateboarding has the potential to become “our thing” for the rest of the world too.