I am not an expert on skateboarding, none of my children ever got into it, and if I were to try it I would, for certain, do myself a mischief. But I do love watching skateboarding and recognise it as an important part of youth culture and urban sport; one that’s totally durable. Now it’s 70 years or so since it started, it is certainly here forever.
It seems obvious that it’s one of the few pastimes that brings together youth culture, art, fashion and sport and helps to override that oft held view from teenagers that you can’t be cool and sporty at the same time (a view that bodies like Sport England and the NHS are also keen to dismiss for health and well-being reasons).
Some misconceptions can take decades to be put right but one – the misconception that skate boarding is an anti-social pastime carried out by delinquent youth – is starting to disappear. I’ve sat in so many meetings with elected council members and attended many a public consultation where people (mainly older generations) speak as if skaters were the most dangerous community in society, but it finally feels like we’re starting to see the end of that. With skateboarding becoming an Olympic Sport and the likes of Sky Brown bringing home medals, it’s time for all those grazed knees and worn out rubber-soled shoes to get the respect they deserve.
This year will see the opening of the Roger De Haan-funded multi story indoor skatepark F51 in Folkestone (pictured below) – along the same lines as the brilliant repurposing of the Turkish baths into a skate and BMX park on Hastings seafront and the long-standing skatepark on Southsea’s seafront.
As many of our coastal towns start to embrace the staycation movement, skateboarding can join paddleboarding, surfing and promenade runs and cycles as a sign that these places are finally starting to look forward to a healthy and purposeful future.
Promenades with young people on four small smooth running wheels rather than on a big-eared member of the Equidae family is surely a sign of a progressive society.
Images from L-R:
The Source Park, Hastings
Lemvig Skatepark (Denmark)