Ollies in the Olympics

Will the Competitive Olympic Spirit Destroy Skateboarding Culture?
Skateboarding

In August 2016 the International Olympic Committee announced that skateboarding is going to feature in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. This has been met with widely varying opinions across the world and especially within the skateboarding community. Skateboarding is often regarded as one of the most free and laid-back sports. In fact, many people don't even consider it a sport, defining it instead by the lifestyle and culture that surround it. 

Skateboarding originally started in California in the late 1940s and was the result of surfers looking for something to do when the waves were flat. This early form of skateboarding was known as 'sidewalk surfing' and skaters rode barefoot, using traditional surfing techniques. During the 1950s and 1960s skateboarding gradually became more and more popular, with several surfing manufacturers choosing to produce skateboards alongside their own surfboards. However, skateboarding suffered a major blow in 1966 when widespread claims about the danger of the sport were circulated across the USA. 

 

This was later revived in the mid 1970s when there was a second skateboarding boom. This boom was brought about by the introduction of urethane wheels, which gave the ability to skate faster and turn harder. Yet the boom can also be attributed to the rise of skateboarding legends such as the 'Z-boys' who gained fame by winning the Del Mar National Championships in 1975. During this competition, skaters were judged on a routine performed on a freestyle platform in front of judges. As videos and photos of this event were circulated, many young people decided to try skateboarding for themselves, aspiring to be just like the Z-boys and other skaters. 

 

Over the last few decades, skateboarding seems to have taken on a rebellious nature. Fuelled by shifting music tastes and the portrayal of skaters by the media, skateboarding has become an essential part of street culture. This makes the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics likely to change attitudes towards skateboarding yet again as people will return to thinking of it as a competitive sport rather than a lifestyle. In addition, many claim that the Olympics won't be able to achieve the same atmosphere as other major competitions such as the X-games.

 

And so, does it seem fitting for a sport that became popular through large competitions and publicity to make its debut at the Olympics? Or does the formality of the Olympics put the evolving and free-flowing nature of the sport at risk? Make sure to tune in during Tokyo 2020 to have your verdict and be sure to watch out for ollies during the street competition (ollies are a basic trick in which street skaters lift their boards of the ground).

 

Lauren VII