Skateboarding is one of the most unique, enjoyable, and physically demanding sports in the world. Like baseball, basketball, and football, skateboarding his endured many changes and fluctuations in popularity and has emerged as one of the most entertaining and satisfying activities enjoyed by both today’s youth and its adults. The goal of this paper is to inform you about the history, evolution and present state of skateboarding.
The concept of skateboarding was invented in the 1950s when surfers from California wanted to try their surfing techniques on land. All over California, surfers and teenagers began constructing their own “land surfboards” by attaching roller skate wheels to wooden crates. The surfers would then ride down steep hills while in the crates, performing surfing moves as they went down. This idea, however, was a painful one. Wooden crates did not provide the necessary range of motion to equate to surfing and, consequently, many surfers were injured while experimenting with their new invention. As a result, wooden surfboard-shaped boards were constructed. A pair of roller skate wheels were attached eight inches inward to either end of the board to add stability while riding.
One day, a young man named Alan Gelfand revolutionized skateboarding. While riding, he pushed downward with his back foot, causing the front of the board to rise. He then jumped with the board. This caused the board, and Alan, to lift off
into the air about five inches off the ground. This technique became known as the
“ollie”, after Alan “Ollie” Gelfand. This was a momentous occasion in the history of skateboarding. Before Alan’s discovery, skateboarding was nothing more than land surfing. The ability to ollie marked the transition between land surfing and skateboarding. Now that people could leave the ground with their board, a brand-new sport was born, and skateboarding became a sport of it’s own.
Now that skateboarders could jump into the air, a whole new world was opened to them. All across America kids were constructing their own boards. Skateboarding became a discovery sport. Everyone was discovering new ways to spin and flip their board and land back on it. Skateboarders were jumping down stairs, over gaps and onto handrails. Skateboarding was flourishing. The explosion of skateboarding was noticed not only by kids, but by
enterprising entrepreneurs. Pioneering businessmen saw a potential market in skateboarding, and acted on it. Skateboards became mass-produced, allowing kids to buy a board, rather than build one. The market boomed, and skateboarding became an industry.
The skateboard itself has undergone an evolution of it’s own. Skateboard decks were originally just pieces of wood. Slowly, the decks took on a rectangular shape, with the two smaller sides rounded off. A “nose” and “tail”, curvatures on the ends of the board, were made to help a skateboarder ollie. Griptape, a corse sandpaper-like tape, was added to the top of the board to help skateboarders stay on their boards. Skateboard decks are now made by compressing multiple layers of wood together to make the board stronger. The skateboard wheel has also undergone a transformation. Skateboard wheels were originally just metal roller skate wheels. Rubber wheels were made to make riding on the skateboard smoother. Finally, urethane wheels were invented to make the wheels smoother, lighter, and cheaper to produce.
Skateboarding is now one of the fastest-growing sports markets in the United States and Europe. Every year there are more than 350 million dollars is spent on skateboarding related products. Everything from wheels and kneepads, to shoes and clothing items are produced and purchased. Skateboard parks are opening up all across the country. Skateboarding is currently at the height of its popularity.
Skateboarding as a sport in the 1990s has taken on an identity of it’s own.
Skateboarders see the sport as the perfect activity. Skateboarding has no bias. It accepts anyone, regardless of race, gender, age, or creed. The unofficial skateboarding motto is ‘If you carry a board, you are my friend’. One advantage to skateboarding is that skateboarders can do it anywhere: skate parks, garages, streets, parks, basketball courts, parking lots or back alleys. Skateboarders don’t need a field to play in. They just need their skateboards. Skateboarding teaches determination. It teaches you how to set goals, and what it takes to achieve them. Skateboarding teaches you persistence. No matter how hard you fall, no matter how many bruises you get or bones you break, you always hop back up and try the same trick again. No other sport offers you that . Skateboarding has undergone many changes, but its unique willingness to accept anyone to try it will keep it popular for years to come, and the love of the sport will keep it alive forever.
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