USAS, We Have a Problem! - by Clarkie

Catchy title huh! A lot has come down since my article about USA Roller Sports (USARS) declaring themselves governing body of skateboarding was publicized. Right after that a whole slew of groups made the same claim to fame, just by saying so on their websites. I found soccer people, roller blade people, bmx, television network people, mobile phone people, even skatepark builders all claiming to be the "governing body of skateboarding." Easy way to get all the millions of dollars the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) hands out to governing bodies maybe? And since the IOC and (according to Jim Fitzpatrick in e-mail discussions about this) NBC badly wants skateboarding in the Olympics and says pretty much has it there, lot more governing body potentials sprang up. Maybe NBC is already the real governing body? Or is ABC/ESPN going to arm wrestle them for it?

During this time Dave Carnie urged several skateboarding groups to form and take back skateboarding from USARS. I jumped on the bandwagon as well, especially in light that the skate media was getting knocked for not covering this important entity that could change the whole face of skateboarding forever. I think we did a good job informing the skate community, I've seen my article linked all over the Internet. There must have been a lot of back door wheeling and dealing going on around then because suddenly everybody I had been discussing this with was no longer considering USARS a threat, and I totally got cut out of the e-mail loop but still pressured them to form. Then from totally out of the blue, in what was apparently suppose to be a very secretive meeting of select individuals and groups, Danielle Bostick of World Cup Skateboarding (WCS) sent me an e-mail saying that Gary Ream of Camp Woodward had organized a group with the intent to become governing body of skateboarding. The United States Association of Skateboarding, (USAS).

Very interesting that a primarily gymnastics, BMX, roller blade training camp would umbrella skateboarding, sound familiar? Maybe because Woodward already has a vert ramp they felt put them in the running over Roller Sports? Yes, skateboarders need to organize, and I was also encouraging a group of skateboarders to form, but Woodward gymnastics camp with Gary Ream as the self appointed President wasn't exactly what I had in mind. This is not a group of all skateboarders, or even a good cross section representation of American skateboarders.

Since they started meeting, I could not get any information about this group whatsoever, and I was unable to travel down to So. Cal. Heidi Lemmon of Skate Park Association USA (SPAUSA) made a motion that I, as skate media, be allowed access to the meetings and minutes since I had been covering this history making issue and as you know Real Skate even still has an interactive site to give feedback to USARS and also the USOC. I never heard back. Heidi made a second motion after it was motioned by someone else that an other media source be allowed in, and I never heard anything more about it. I got blackballed by supposedly some people in my own field. Interesting that a group claiming to be the governing body of skateboarding would not want skate media to be involved? Are they hiding something? Isn't it a law that non-profits are suppose to make all their meetings and minutes open to the public? I'll definitely check on that.

So, I wrote to Gary Ream asking him to do an interview with me, and he shined me on. It became apparent to me that something was terribly wrong with this picture. So, my brain started working overtime, (typical of a blackballed reporter). Wow, what a potential monetary endeavor for Woodward (who already draws 15 mil a year in fees according to an Internet article). They would be the official training camp for future skateboarding "olympians", receive all the USOC money given to it's governing bodies, plus with World Cup working under them they have all the resources they need to take over skateboarding competitions together with their own "Woodward X-Games" movement they are trying to organize. And since they are partnered with a playground modular park builder, any control the governing body would have over skateparks would be turned into modular wood. Yup, it would be the last of cement parks. With Heidi on the committee, and all her years of experience and all she has worked for developing SPAUSA, and probably the most valuable resource person in the group with her international contacts, insurance all set in place, SPAUSA would also become defunct and absorbed in the Woodward movement. And, most importantly with the world's top skater, Tony Hawk appointed as Vice President, are you getting the picture? Whoever gets Tony gets skateboarding! I see World Cup and SPAUSA dissolving, the skater's union UPSA (which I assume is already defunct since the skaters dumped Fitz and started a whole new pro union) chalked off as whiners, and all skate event organizers and sponsors will now have to be sanctioned under Woodward should they get recognition as skateboarding's governing body. What a concept!

Then, after the second meeting, Carnie posted info about USAS and listed the executive board members on Skateboarding Sucks, it all became clear and my theory justified. Mike Jacki is involved! Ah, of course! He is a "sports consultant" very well known in the olympic world of gymnastics, and also was president of the Ski Federation (FIS). You remember them, they are the ones who slipped snowboarding into the Olympics under their ski umbrella in spite of the snowboarders already having a very well-organized governing body. This is what prompted Terje Haakonsen, the world's top snowboarder to boycott the Olympics. He compared the IOC to the mafia. Shitty deal. Neil Hendrix wrote feedback to my original article (apparently) opposing the Olympics saying "...we learned from the snowboarders." Well, skateboarders apparently didn't learn enough because you're rubbing elbows with the same man who "olympicized" snowboarding. He's obviously doing the same thing by mainstreaming skateboarding and heading it straight to the Olympics! If you think not, then why are they referring to the skateboarders on the committee as "athletes?" Since snowboarding has been in the Olympics, not only did they make a fool of the marijuana second hand smoke incident, it has generated many new gear companies, such as Pride Snowboards.

Speaking of athletes, I have since heard from Neil again who wrote to tell me I was wrong on some things and to correct me on some issues he heard me talking about through the e-mail grapevine. This surprised me since he is on the executive committee therefore must have taken a part in blackballing me, yet wrote to correct me and give me some facts? Anyway, Neil told me that USAS will hold an election and all members will vote whether or not skateboarding will support the Olympics. Well, when that happens you be sure to get me plenty of those ballots for us Northern Californians OK? Because that group does NOT represent all of skateboarding. We know that won't happen, but seriously hasn't this already pretty much been voted on before? Have you checked out all the skateboard message boards? Skaters have been showing their disapproval of skateboarding being in the Olympics for a long time. Skateboarding is not and should never be considered an Olympic sport, and I'm sorry, Neil but I do not share your enthusiasm for it, and I think you are wrong if you think skateboarders will have it their way in the Olympics. You don't do things any other way than the Olympic way, complete with matching spandex uniforms.

But, the USAS will turn it into a sport. Our vert skaters will be all doing the same tricks, probably timed, and wearing mandatory matching Oly gear supplied by Nike, since Nike is a skateboarding company right? And skating for your country! Everyone knows what a laughing stock will be made of skateboarders, and everyone knows that this whole movement is for nothing more than big bucks. Huge bucks. Not for the "athletes;" they don't get paid unless it's a bribe, but for the governing body. All Olympic athletes are exploited for this purpose. Do some Internet searches on how corrupt the IOC is. Do some searches on Gymnastics and see who pops up. Our own USOC is currently under a reform finally after so much corruption was brought to the attention of our government.

Needless to say, there is a whole lot of stuff about the USAS that doesn't feel right to me. And since they won't talk to me, their silence is worth a million words. If even for the fact alone that the majority of members consist of manufacturers and vert skaters (television skateboarding performers I call them). But, they are all in So. Cal., and I don't understand at all why Fitz is one of the VP's. His UPSA group is now defunct I assume, since his professional skater athletes formed their own skater union, the type of deal he had intended to accomplish for them years ago. His website hasn't been updated in over 2 years, and everyone knows all his "members" he has listed are not really members, the IASC booted him out of the executive officer position, so what is his capacity on a governing body of skateboarding? IASC has some good heads on it, but they are in the business of business. Manufacturers of product, and not necessarily known to support their pros to any extent, so I'm not sure why they have such a prominent representation on the body. If the skaters on USAS think they will have control over how skateboarding will be presented in the Olys, I think that's about as bizarre a promise as the all skateboarder election idea.

If the vert pros want money and benefits, get a real job, or continue to participate in those stupid, fake Pro contests the not skate corporations are putting on, or continue to endorse bad sponsors, but don't ruin the spirit of skateboarding to get what only you, a small handful want. Or, if it's television fame you want, join some actors union. I personally don't believe USAS will even be recognized by the IOC. It has been confirmed by Senator Diane Feinstein that Federation of Roller Sports (FIRS) is the national recognized body for skateboarding. They slipped it into the Roller Sports category because it involves a wheel (sort of like snowboarding involves snow therefore, it's a skiing discipline). USARS a year ago didn't even have anything about being governing body on their website, but now they do. If they were defeated why now would they add that? They are a nonprofit, they have to be careful what they claim. In recent conversations I've had with them, they insist that skateboarding hasn't been recognized by the IOC. Though, they will not answer me when I ask if when/if they do, will it be them? I'm pretty sure the answer is, "of course." But while all this is being decided upon in the next few years, Woodward will have a strong lead in ruling American skateboarding and all aspects of it. That is if you on USAS board lets them.

I hope my two cents has given the public, skaters, and groups on USAS something to think about. I would strongly question what Ream's plan is really about and demand to know the truth of exactly what's up. I would personally encourage WCS, SPAUSA, Carnie, Miki, and Tony to pull out. Get busy and REALLY form a group to represent US skateboarding. Follow the Canadians organizing body approach, Canadian Amateur Skateboarding Association, CASA. They have not held any secret meetings. They do not have a corporate backer. They have held open meetings all over Canada recruiting people interested in supporting a true governing body of skateboarding, have a website letting everyone know what's up, and they have several, almost all the Canadian media folks on their executive committee. They don't have a slick sports consultant to orchestrate them.

Like I said, my gut feeling is that USARS has got it should it go to the Olympics. All you have to do, therefore, is boycott the Olympics and it's all over. They won't want just any skaters, no amateurs, they want the popular vert skaters who have the potential of bringing in a big draw, and the potential to make their endorsers and sponsors rich. Aren't these vert skaters a little old, all in their 30's anyway? Isn't Olympics for younger aspiring amateurs? Don't we already have amateur skateboarding groups California Amateur Skateboard League CASL for instance already in force who would be better suited for the Olympic movement should they desire?

I have to agree that skateboarding does need to be governed now, but only for the purpose of keeping OUT the involvement of big corporations, and to keep it OUT of the Olympics, the epitome of all skateboarding evils. Only true-to-the-heart skate people will stand up to the corporate monsters and will and can do this, and we need a committee more representative of skateboarding with balls to stand up to this nonsense.

I am soon going to be preparing for a skateboarding boycott and I hope all skaters will support it. I will keep you informed. In the meantime below is a world-wide petition to boycott the Olympics in opposition of holding them in China in 2008. Now you know why they don't want me around right?

Keep it real!

If you would like to help:

Please sign our PETITION to the IOC asking to not recognize skateboarding as an Olympic sport.

Gary Ream won't talk to Real Skate about this. If you would like to express your opinions to him, or plea for him to stay out of the Olympics and skateboarding's future, or have questions to ask him, his e-mail is


[Special thanks to all the websites I have linked to in this article.]



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