Olympics, meet skateboarding.
Despite the minor issue of a global pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are going to happen sooner or later and skate communities around the globe are buzzing with a cocktail of stoke, fear, dread, and in some cases, total indifference. We are filled with a mixture of the four. While we do cringe seeing what is usually a motley gang of beloved misfits, suddenly neatly dressed in fully matching team rags, looking more set to swing a bat over a diamond plate than kickflip back lip a 10 set-- we can also see, with a little squinting, a few pretty huge plusses to this whole, Olympics...thing.
Note: We’re all aware of the downsides, what with the possible loss and gentrification of skateboarding’s street culture-- so we won’t go into the lows here and now. There are enough downers atm.
Shrinking the gender gap.
Both men and women will have equal representation on the world stage that is the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games. What this means, is that regular people watching the Olympics globally, people who may never normally watch a video part or competition, will suddenly be faced with the realization that skateboarding is in fact not a criminal activity, it is not gender-specific, nor do female skaters fit in with any single stereotypical image.
This will have a positive global impact.
Look at places on the planet where the gender gap is quite massive; Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Cambodia, to name a few. Out of these places, we are seeing more and more girls and women shredding. With already stellar work being done by organizations like Skateistan; which of its 800 members in Afghanistan, 45 percent are women-- skateboarding being in the Olympics will only further this and widen skateboarding’s reach.
Of course, this isn’t only about the physical act of skateboarding. This is about what skateboarding means. To a young woman whose role has previously been to take care of the men and boys in the house, to clean and cook, skateboarding can mean freedom. Skateboarding can mean confidence. Skateboarding can become a much-needed escape and a point of focus and empowerment.
More government-funded skate projects. More skate parks. More support.
Olympic fever has taken hold, and as a result, is certainly solidifying skateboarding as more than a nasty case of nCoV19 that won’t go away. Government bodies can no longer dismiss skateboarders as only punks and criminals. That’s right boys and girls, we’re as legitimate as figure skaters.
Take Melbourne, for example. The city council has recognized that the city, thanks to its ledges, benches, smooth flat, parks, and architecture, has become a world-renowned skate destination, easily rolling with Barcelona and LA. They’ve released a 10-year plan (which places heavy emphasis on the addition of skateboarding to the Olympics) in order to encourage skateboarding in the city of Melbourne. This plan outlines the city-wide addition of multiple features to public spaces and skateparks, while making existing shared public areas and outdoor furniture more skateable. When we say ‘more skateable’ we mean adding metal edges on public benches, stuff like that.
Whether the intent of this plan is an attempt to curb the skating (and de-skate-stopper-ing) of public infrastructure; “if skating becomes more popular they’re gonna destroy the whole city!”, or if it is a real attempt to embrace the culture and provide more places to skate, it really makes no difference. The result is the same. And the result is damn good.
So we say let’s focus on the positives, of which there are many. Sure, there are a bunch of downsides, but why focus on those? This train is a-rollin’ and there’s no stopping it now! No point focusing on the bad!
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