I used to ride a skateboard that looked just like the blue one below, riding it up and down Daniels Street in front of my house, and then taking it up the steeper hill past Coolidge, and bringing it back down that 45 degree incline, wondering if a car was going to speed through the intersection.
It was the early 1970s, and I used to get my polyurethene wheels at a store on Austin Street, learned how to remove the wheels and ball bearings, oil it up and secure the new wheels on to my board.
I never got good at all the fancy tricks, but back in the early 70s, that wasn’t the big thing. It was just about going from point A to point B and getting some speed down the hills.
But skateboarding has grown up since I was a kid, and it is serious business, not only in competition, but also in fashion and lifestyle. And it is a central element in the global youth culture. The Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee definitely recognized the trend towards youth, and picked skateboarding on September 28 as one of its five recommended new sports for the 2020 Olympics.
As skateboarding icon and entrepreneur, Tony Hawk, said in this interview with Larry King, “If you look at the success of snowboarding, and how that’s a brought a more youthful edge to the (Winter) Olympics in general…they don’t have that with the Summer Games. They don’t have anything that’s bringing in a younger viewership.”
So maybe it’s skateboarding. But it may have to triumph over a similar young generation sport – sport climbing, or a traditional and former Olympic sport, baseball. Can it convince IOC officials that it is worth the endorsement more than homegrown karate?
But as Hawk explained, it’s no biggie if the IOC fails to recognize the timing and importance of skateboarding as an Olympic sport. “Honestly, I think they need skateboarding than we need them because skateboarding’s popularity is solidified for the most part in a lot of countries.”