Well just when you think it's safe to say skateboarding
is keeping it real the shit hits the fan. There have been some bad
things, sad to say, for instance, rollerblading manufacturer, Nike
successfully infiltrating our market, no thanks to whoever let them
in. But then most of us move on NOT accepting the bad things even
though they are there. The embarrassing moments like the Boost Mobile
Skate Pro TV production, (with no disrespect to the skaters) oh
my god forbid, hopefully won't be rerun for more to see. To top
things off, I get a bulk e-mail from Jim Fitzpatrick, of UPSA, (United
Professional Skateboarders Association) saying: "A brief reassurance
that skateboarding and skateboarders are still part of the Olympic
skateboarding picture... UPSA has contacted the International Olympic
Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, expressing its interest in establishing
a relationship with the IOC that would result in UPSA becoming the
"Organizing Body" for skateboarding." Holy @#$%!! Who is this
guy and how can he possibly represent skateboarders if he's pushing
the Olympics? We don't want the Olympics, Tony Hawk himself doesn't
even want the Olympics!!
But what really tops those and other skateboarding
shames, is the alert a bunch of us got from Heidi Lemmon, of SPAUSA
(Skate Park Association, USA). I guess while we were all asleep,
reading our Nike Skateboarding ads, or watching our skateboarding
"athletes" compete for big bucks on television, Heidi
announces that unless we unite into a governing body of our own,
the USA Rollersports from Lincoln, Nebraska is becoming the governing
body of skateboarding which would have a major effect on a lot of
skateboarding events and issues.
I, along with others, was all bah humbug about this,
thinking maybe Heidi also really believed the grinch really stole
christmas. How could anyone just say ok, I own skateboarding. I
was thinking, no way would anybody ever govern skateboarding, we
don't need or want to be governed, we're ungovernable and Rollersports
can go to hell, they will never govern skateboarding. Well guess
what, Heidi was right, they did! USA Rollersports became the official
governing body of skateboarding as recognized by the USOC (US Olympic
Committee) and other sports organizations. Rollersports also governs
rollerblading, figure skating, roller skating, and roller hockey
to name a few sports under their umbrella. And they did this in
spite of the fact that we DID organize and chose World Cup Skateboarding
as skateboarding's governing body. WCS invented the scoring system
for all the skate comps and has done a lot for skateboarding culture
for more than 12 years. It made sense to recognize them as our governing
body if in fact we needed to be governed.
So the big picture in all this is Olympic money. It's
dirty money and it's huge money. The Olympics gives each country's
governing body of each sport multiple millions of dollars to organize
events leading up to and supporting the Olympics. As an example
of monetary abuse, this is the same money the Olympics gave to Uday
Hussein to support Iraq's athletic program. Of course we all know
now that Uday used his millions to build torture chambers for the
athletes who didn't perform well. While I don't think Rollersports
will torture our skateboarders for not landing their tricks, they
sure are chasing hard for that dangling carrot, not only in this
country but in others as well. England and Australia we know for
sure are organizing against Rollersports becoming their governing
body of skateboarding.
And guess who's in bed with Rollersports? Their website
will tell you: "Nike and USA Roller Sports are dedicated to
the advancement of roller sports as a healthy form of exercise and
competition, and commends the athletes who have worked tirelessly
to promote in-line skating as an international competitive sport.
USA Roller Sports is recognized by the Federation Internationale
de Roller Skating (FIRS) and United States Olympic Committee (USOC)
as the National Governing Body for Competitive Roller Sports in
the United States. For more information, log on to www.usarollersports.org
or contact Media and Public Relations Director Mary Beth Vorwerk
at (402) 483-7551 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"...USARS is dedicated to creating, enhancing and conducting
the best competitions and programs for roller sports. We instill
the drive to win and be the absolute best...in sport and in life."
Can't you just picture our skaters, err "athletes" marching
in during the opening ceremony wearing their red, white, and blue
matching spandex running suits?
So the call came out for help to get this Rollersports
deal exposed, so Dave Carnie (Editor, Big Brother Skateboarding
Magazine) and I offered to do some investigative reporting, or more
like investigative intimidating. Carnie published an article in
the May issue of Big Bro after his conversation with Dinah Robbins
of USRS who is in charge of skateboarding. I believe the transcript
is posted on the online version of Big Bro. He shared the transcript
with me and it's hilarious; it will make you laugh! Not long after
his call to Miss Robbins I called Rollersports myself. Well Carnie
must have given Dinah Robbins a nervous breakdown, because when
I called I was referred to a new person in charge of skateboarding,
Miss Ferreira was very polite and informed me that
she was just appointed rep for the skateboarding division of Rollersports.
I asked her if she was a skater. She said, yes, she is a figure
skater. I asked her what qualified her to be the likely personnel
to represent skateboarding. She said because she lives near the
skate park in Lincoln, and drives past it ever day. She said skateboarding
was interesting. I asked if there were any skaters on their committee,
she said yes and named a couple of businesses back east who sold
rollerblades and "some" skateboards. I asked her why Rollersports
feels they can better represent skateboarding and skaters than some
of the organizations already in place. She said it was because they
have the most experience with the Olympics and how the games work,
including the Pan Am games. She said "We just want to help
you guys out and take you to the next level." She said they
had insurance and could offer it to skate competitions. She said
it's just in the early stages, but they were just setting the grounds
in case Tony Hawk wanted to join them and take skateboarding to
the Olympics. They were hopeful he would. I said, "But Tony
doesn't want to go to the Olympics. I told her he was quoted saying
'Someone has to stop the madness with the Olympics. They need skateboarding
way more than skateboarding needs them.'" After the long pause
on the phone, she then said they will attract all the younger up
and coming skaters. I thanked her for her time, and assured her
that they wouldn't get a very positive response from their newly
Keep in mind of course that I could hardly keep
from laughing on the phone during all this, yet I kept my cool and
was polite out of respect for her politeness. I called on another
occasion pretending to be a mom who wanted my skateboarder kid to
go all the way to the Olympics. She was very helpful, and enthusiastic
and offered to send me out a membership packet right away!
Carnie and I had discussed that maybe the vert dawgs
might want to eventually hit the Olympics and we didn't want to
mess that up for them if they did. So he e-mailed Tony Hawk to get
his input and see if he had heard of the Rollersports thing and
he had not. In addition to Tony's above quote he added "...
just look at how much they [the Olympics] highlighted snowboarding
last year because of the "cool" factor it brought in (and the younger
audience). It was barely covered in 1998, and was mostly the object
of ridicule. The same thing happened with snowboarding when it finally
got "accepted" as an Olympic sport - the skiing organization/federation
became the governing body, which is why Terje boycotted from day
one. I don't see how rollerskating/blading could take over when
it's so much smaller at this point. If we make it to the Olympics,
it has to be on our terms. It could have a good comedic factor though
- imagine a Russian judge's score on technical merit..."
I agree with Tony and I hope all of you agree too.
I know some of you will think this is such bullshit that you won't
even want to read this article, and just want to go skate thinking
it doesn't affect you or mean anything to you. But it does, it will
affect all skateboarders. I ask that you all be aware of these issues
and do your best to fight against the crap being slung our way and
the further exploitation of skateboarding. I urge you to write to
the Olympics and tell them we do NOT want skateboarding to be involved,
that skateboarding is not a sport and skaters are not athletes.
Write to Rollersports, and tell them they do NOT represent skateboarding.
The newly regrouped IASC has written a letter to the Olympics, World
Cup Skateboarding has written a letter to Rollersports, and I hope
everyone will too. We owe it to ourselves and the future of skateboarding
to keep it real. We'll keep you posted on this one.
(Added 2/19/06) Please help by signing our PETITION.
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