Skateboarding in the Media by Tara Fox

Hey Clarkie! This is an essay that I wrote for my English class regarding skateboarding in the media, and I thought I'd share it with everyone on Real Skate, (sorry it's a little long!) Here ya go...

Over the past few years, skateboarding, once considered by its participants as an "underground art form," is now recognized by the media, including popular television stations ESPN and Fox. It now seems as if everyone skateboards. You can poll fifty random people on the street, and I guarantee that about 90% of them will have heard of Tony Hawk, skateboard prodigy, who ESPN began to refer to as the "skateboarder equivalent of Michael Jordan," after landing the 900 at the 1999 Summer X Games. As he stated in his new autobiography, Hawk Occupation: Skateboarder, "After I landed the 900 at the X Games, newspaper after newspaper wrote articles about me. Sports programs showed the 9 on their highlight reels. Surreal. My schedule filled up with interviews, and television shows filmed segments about me. Old ladies, jocks, waiters and waitresses, policemen, security guards, and entire families congratulated me on landing the 900. How did some basketball fan even know what a 9 is? Or why did he care? I was awestruck. It's ironic to think that a few years earlier skateboarding had been as passé as you could get, and now there were rent-a-cops fighting with teenagers to get a skater's autograph."
      Although to the "outside world," the overwhelming popularity of skateboarding would seem to have a positive effect on the future of the sport, the majority of skateboarders feel otherwise. Professional skateboarder Mike Vallely believes that the media is "raping skateboarding of its soul." And he's right. Money hungry people who don't know a thing about skateboarding are all trying to make some sort of profit off it, from starting up a cheap company, to building a "How To Skateboard" website. At the same time, the media's negative influence is sending out a bad message by telling people that skateboarding is a fad, and will eventually become as passé as beanie babies, which is not true. Sure, there will most likely come a time when ESPN will move on to another sport, but that will not mean that the sport of skateboarding will go down along with it. Skateboarders who skate for the fun of it, not because of its popularity, are the ones who skate purely because of their love for the sport. They're the ones who know what it means to be a skateboarder.
      I laugh when I see the countless number of little kids on the streets pushing around on their ridiculous looking metal scooters, and wonder what possesses them to spend over $100 for such a thing. And that's when it hits me. Everyone feels as if they need to be "cool." They need to fit in. They can't be outsiders, so they will do anything in their power to feel normal and accepted in society. That's why such an overwhelming number of people are starting to skateboard. I'm not saying that no one should start to skateboard, what I'm saying is that if your not planning to stick with the sport through thick and thin, and through good times and bad, don't bother spending your money. Everyday I see people walking around in a brand new pair of now horrifically over priced skate shoes and World Industries T-shirts, and a frown comes over my face. What is skateboarding coming to? Why is skateboarding now so cool? If you skated in the 80's and early 90's, and were caught riding a skateboard, let alone hanging around with a skateboarder you'd be laughed at, now if you don't skateboard or at least hang out with those who do you're viewed as unusual.
      I applaud those skateboarders who have been around long enough to know what it's like to not have quality skateboard goods, to have had to actually make their own equipment or go without participating in their favorite sport. I know that I have only been skateboarding for five measly years, but I also know that skateboarding has become a part of me, not only a sport but a form of expression.
      It's pretty easy to tell that the media is interested in skateboarding for the money, and only for the money. If people would realize that they need to do things because they enjoy doing them, not because of how popular it is or how much money could be made, life for all would be much better. It seems people in society tend to wear masks, and if they'd just take them off, the world would be a much more interesting place to live. Having a serious, honest, and open mind about skateboarding, like other hobbies, sports, or interests is an objective to strive for and promote.

NOTE: Props to all companies who provide a positive outlook on skateboarding, as well as this website REAL SKATE!

[Editor's Note: Thank you Tara and props to you too! Real Skate gives you an A+]



Real Skate Copyright © 1999-2003 by Clarkie, Santa Cruz, CA. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means; electronic, mechanical, photocopy, or otherwise without the prior written permission of the copyright owner, photographers, writers, or artists named herein. Trademarks mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners. (What this means is, Please Don't Steal!).