Skateboarding History, Evolution And Stereotypes Essay, Research Paper
It is 9:30 PM, the skies are dark but the gigantic stadium lights illuminate the sleek and ever so smooth ramps in the Skate Park. The crowd is in silence as a single skater is the center of attention, as he drops into the 9-foot quarter pipe. As he rolls down the ramp the distinct rumble of a skateboard can be heard, as he approaches the pyramid the crowd gasps in hopes for a great trick or a even a great fall. As the skater reaches the top of the pyramid he crouches and unleashes a huge Ollie and quickly kicks his back foot off of the board and grabs the tail with his right hand. Just before landing he pulls his foot back onto the board and lets go of the tail. The second the distinctive sound of his board riding smoothly across the ground came again the crowd roared with approval.
If you have never stepped onto a skateboard you would not understand what drives skateboarders to push the limits of their boards their bodies and the terrain around them. Skateboarding is an interesting sport with a very interesting history. What is the history of skateboarding, How have the equipment and the sport changed since the sport was discovered? What are the stereotypes that are associated with this “extreme” sport?
Skateboarding began in the 1920s and 30s; Surfers who could not get to the beach would take the bottoms of roller skates and nail them onto a plank or any piece of wood they could get a hold of. These boards were very unstable, stiff and if you were to hit a pebble while riding the wheels would shatter because they were made of clay
(Shoemaker 9). In the 1950s a great change came into the world of skateboarding, a specially designed truck. (the metal piece that holds the skateboard and wheels together) with this invention the skateboard was able to turn much easier. In 1970 another marvelous invention rocked the world of skateboarding, Frank Nasworthy decided that a urethane skateboard wheel would give the skater more control less noise and much more traction along with the fears of a wheel shattering being blown out the window (The History of skateboarding in less than 1700 words excerpt from The Concrete Wave).
About this time the actual size and shape of the skateboard was changing. The skateboard went from being a small very thin uncurbed piece of wood about a eighteen inches long and four or five inches wide to around 30 inches long and 11 inches wide with the back side of the skateboard turned slightly upward. The style of skating also changed with the style of these two types of skateboards. With the first skinny boards the objective was to start at the top of a hill and ride down without falling off, which was no easy task because of the lack of control and the dangerous clay wheels. The new wider boards with urethane wheels were used to carve around in pools and roll down bigger and better hills at much greater speeds. (Excerpt from The concrete wave).
The next and possibly the biggest change in the way skateboarding is perceived was the invention of the Ollie. (an aerial maneuver in which the skater jumps off the ground and the board stays under his feet while he is in the air) The Ollie was created in 1978 by a man by the name of Allen Ollie Gelfand. He perfected this trick on the bigger boards with urethane wheels. With the invention of the Ollie there was a sudden uprising of a new type of skating called street skating. Street skating took skaters into a new level of danger and excitement. It seemed that no skater could resist ollieing sets of stairs and sliding down handrails. With all the new stress on the skateboard itself, it was once again time to modify the skateboard. In the late 80s and early 90s the skateboard was turned into a highly engineered device. The nose (front ) and tail (back) were now both turned upwards, the width of the board dropped down to between seven and eight inches and the length stayed about the same. But for the first time ever there was concave. Concave is how the board was shaped in the middle, the older boards were totally flat but the new boards had concave which made flipping the skateboard over and spinning it around a possibility.
Now that skateboarding had been pushed to its new limit, the cities were getting tired of having skateboarders skating every public set of steps and sliding or grinding anything they could find. The people began to stereotype skateboarders as delinquents and drug users because of their appearance and the fact that the people who didn’t skate could not understand the attraction to skateboarding. They saw it as a way to let out violence or some even saw it as anarchy. As with any sport you will have the good guys and you will have the bad guys.(campus headline news).
Skateboarding has had its ups and downs but it is safe to say that it is here now and possibly at its biggest peak ever, but this will most likely lead to the greatest depression of skateboarding in history as well. But those who are true and those who are new into the sport and love it will never let it die out.