Only three weeks after the official inclusion of Skateboarding, as a sport, into the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, there has been a lot of talk, with love and with hate, about the decision.
We wanted to share the the view of our editor, Keegan Guizard, on the topic. So we’re sharing his own words direct from his own blog:
On August 3rd, 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the very public announcement that skateboarding, along with surfing, sport climbing, karate and softball/baseball, will be official Olympic sports in the 2020 Summer Olympic games in Tokyo. The mainstream world, right along with the mainstream media, received this news with a smile and many congratulations to hobbyists of each of these “sports.” But in the case of at least one of those new Olympic sports, participants did not feel 100% positive about the inclusion. Coming from the skateboarders’ area of interest, many skaters in the US (and internationally) didn’t have the greatest attitude toward the new sport becoming “Olympic” in stature.
Many purists of the skateboarding world, a.k.a. real “core” skaters, feel strongly that skateboarding is something for skaters, by skaters and not for the masses. Skateboarding is one thing (and sometimes the only thing) that remains sacred for many skaters around the world, especially those that began doing it before it rose to mass appeal and popularity through media and entertainment. Skateboarding, historically has been dirty, risky and too vulgar for the neighbor’s kids, so to speak. But over the last 20+ years, skateboarding has become more commercialized and, therefore, accessible to many many more humans, especially in America.
The popular rise of skateboarding to the public has been a slow and inconsistent path, but it is now, more than ever, exposed (in certain contexts) to the greater population. The introduction of Street League was in 2010, and it has now become a staple amongst many skaters to follow and fanaticize. Contest prize purses have swelled, interested corporate sponsors have become more plentiful and fame of certain pro skaters in the mainstream has become commonplace.
US “core” skateboarders are frustrated by this, because they feel that they would be skateboarding whether or not it was popular. And many times they’re completely right. Skateboarding is hot right now, but there is a close community of skateboarders that will continue to love skateboarding every day, for better or for worse, until they die. And those are the people that feel embarrassed and sickened by the presence of “posers” and fair-weather fans that don’t truly understand the culture. In addition to the insincere skaters, the large companies pumping money into skateboarding right now may very well back out at its peak, when kids move on to the next “Xtreme Sport” or favorite past-time.
Skating the streets of Queens, NY, only for the sake of skating. Photo: Matt Miller
I think any thoughtful and open-minded person could sympathize and understand why a skater might feel this way. Especially someone who’s put decades of their life and life’s work into the thing we call skateboarding. There are a lot of things happening behind the scenes – attending city hall meetings to get skateparks built, going to court for skateboarding tickets, building backyard halfpipes and crowd-funding DIY concrete spots in illegal places. Real skateboarding includes all of those things and always has.
Now, in 2016, Skateboarding is an Olympic sport, whether us skaters like it or not. Many skateboarders are indifferent. Yet there are also arguments by skaters in favor of Olympic Skateboarding.
Skateboarding’s inclusion in the Olympic Games is not the first time it has been commercialized on a world stage, however this is the largest thus far… Street League and the X Games have already brought skateboarding to American television screens and the forefront of Instagram and other social media channels. It has been done before. But this time, skateboarding can be broadcasted to the world at large, to those that never have been introduced to skateboarding, and even to those that do not have the means to skate. The Olympics, with the right guidance from the IOC, the ISF (International Skateboarding Federation) and the FIRS (Fédération Internationale Roller Sports), will show skateboarding in its truest form through competition. But there’s a big “if” there.
For competition skaters, this would mean greater stakes, bigger rewards and faster evolution of skating talent worldwide. The progression will be unprecedented, and the ability to make a living for the best of the best will be better than ever. For those that reject “contest skating,” big corporate-sponsored skateboarding and everything involved in said realm of the “sport,” it’s widely thought to be a different story.
Luan Oliveira does a 360 flip at a Street League contest. Photo: FoxSports.com
For everyone on the other side, the street skaters, the core purists of skateboarding: 1. Skateboarding will not change for them. If anything, those that are full-time training for the biggest contests won’t be focused on filming video parts any longer, leaving the landscape more open and creative for others to do their own thing. 2. Skateboarding will be more respected (in general) worldwide and will probably result in more people being cool with us skating spots at/near their homes and places of businesses. There will be less hassles of skating street, which has already begun from pure public opinion and modern architects designing skate-friendly obstacles. 3. There will be more places built for skaters to skate. The boom of modern skate plazas will continue, as more and more public officials will likely envision a future for skateboarders in their cities & towns.
Sure, there will always be a push back from core skaters when you bring up competition at all. And sure, there will always be classic kooks who will never understand or truly try to understand skateboarding from our perspective. But such is the world we live in. In the end, more money will come into skateboarding, and along with the money will come endless criticism from the passionate gatekeepers of our skateboarding culture. But if those seeking a rewarding skateboarding career are being paid fairly to represent (insert here) brand, is there anything really wrong with this picture?
Skateboarding is one thing that brings people together. We can go anywhere in the world, language barrier irrelevant, and go skating with fellow skateboarders that will look out for us. Skateboarding is one of few true unifiers. It is powerful, and it’s here to stay. Don’t let the kooks break it apart. Those looking to make a buck in our industry aren’t going away; we can’t make them. So let’s make the best of it and stick together in this turbulent landscape. Brazilian, American, Australian, Canadian or otherwise, we are all skaters, and we make of it what we want. Nationality aside, we are all skateboarders. Skateboarding will be present at the Olympics. Will we abandon it, for the fakes to try and replicate? Or will we come together and show the world why skateboarding is the sickest..?
What do YOU think about Olympic Skateboarding? Or even skating in general?
Britain, historically and currently, has influenced skateboarding and continues to influence skating globally. The skate culture we know now wouldn’t be the same without figures like Geoff Rowley, Carl Shipman or Tom Penny and companies like Landscape or Blueprint. Heroin Skateboards originated from a British mastermind and has some of the best-selling decks on Skateboards.com, so we recently sat down with Fos (Mark Foster), the founder of Heroin Skateboards, to chat about their newest graphic series: Heroin’s Violence Toys.
The simplest way to put it is that Heroin’s brand is, well, gnarly.. It takes you back a second the first time you hear it in conversation, especially if you’re not used to spending time in the streets. Many initially wouldn’t back the company because of that, but Fos moved forward regardless. He tells us, “I never cared about what anyone else thought. I only really do stuff for myself that I think’s good.” Between its unique team riders and explicit board graphics, Heroin has a reputation all its own.
The idea for a new board series came from a collection of modern toys. Fos reports, “…my friend in the UK has a toy company, so I’ve always sort of toyed [no pun intended] with the idea of having a series based on that for the riders. And what I’ve wanted to do was like, custom-make a character for each rider.”
A bit more research showed that custom toys on par with those he had in mind were pretty gnarly as well, with molding costs in the $1,000s. So an alternative needed to be found to make it work. A buddy, Ezra, from SD is another toy maker that made the toys we see on the current Heroin Skateboards “Violence Toys”series. Toys already on the market were used for studio photography, and Fos says it ended up working out way easier that way
We’re glad the series worked out, as we’re already such fans of Heroin’s brand. Though it’s not easy to say the brand’s name in front of parents at skateshops, Fos talked with us about why and how the brand was created. As it turns out, it was just a pure desire to create something original with a bit of good timing mixed in. “From 1998, I started it in a hospital bed, and I drew the original logo with my left hand… It’s pretty mellow really. It’s just fun, sort of.” If he hadn’t had that injury to his right wrist and down time after operation, Heroin might not have been what it is today. And it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. With riders like Daniel Shimizu, Tony Karr and Lee Yankou, the brand is in good hands out in the streets and skateparks.
Franky Villani doing a backside smith grind at Phoenix Am. Photo: Joe Hammeke
Villani killed it, for those of us familiar with this up-and-comer. And he probably surprised everyone who didn’t have him on their radar. With gap tricks, long kinked rails, goofy tricks and hubba tech bangers, Franky had everything in his arsenal and let it all out on the streets for “No Cash Value.” The video starts off with a brutal slam on a handrail, which kicks it off with true Zero Skateboards spirit. But then, even better, it continues with The Misfits as the score. Starting with lots of air time, seeming like a typical street part, it switched up before too long and kept us on our toes for the remainder of the video. Everything from the pressure flip, to the oh-so-popular sex changes, to Bennett grind variations and flips into footplants, he’s got it.
Halfway through the video, the song transitions to the luscious Lesley Gore, which provides a more dreamy vibe to the tricks he does. High no-complys, burly cavemans and quick footed lines make it impossible not to enjoy this guy’s bag of tricks and style on a board! It’s not to say that Franky’s style of skateboarding would satiate every single skater in our modern skate culture, but he comes about as close as anyone, especially any average 20-year-old from Orange County, CA.
We look forward to seeing more from Franky in the future, since he’s a young buck and current Am. His variety seems unlimited, and his style is powerful. The part is rounded out by two minutes of “bloopers” that are actually just insanely hard tricks that he almost or sloppily landed. Even his outtakes are sick! And we think that’s what impressed us so much about Franky Villani. He has one of the deepest bag of tricks we’ve seen in a while and his style is killer, but his attitude towards skating spots is the best and most open. It’s refreshing to see in someone so young: a true skate rat that interprets the streets in a completely fresh and unpredictable fashion. A rail to one skater might be a no-comply bumper to another, and it was especially cool to see such a genuinely new approach from a new Zero Am.
Congrats to Zero. Congrats to Franky Villani. Congrats to all his other sponsors: Spitfire, Thunder, Leftover Hardware, KR3W, Garage Skateshop & New Balance Numeric. Thanks Thrasher and cheers to you, skateboarding!
For the teaser, watch below. But the full part is available right HERE on Thrasher!