Skateboarding has become incredibly popular, with over 85 million skateboarders internationally, about 10 million of which are from the United States. Los Angeles is considered to be the most famous city for street skating because it is where street skating began. Not only does LA have iconic street skating spots and schoolyards, but it’s also home to a lot of top professional street skaters such as Paul Rodrigez, Chris Cole, and Torey Pudwill.
Skateboarding growth has led to the sport becoming an inclusive niche world, allowing skaters to turn what was once considered a hobby into a legitimate career with a market value that is said to reach $323.6 million by 2025. The concept of skateboarding was brought about by surfers who wanted the opportunity to continue training when the waves weren’t ideal. Growing in popularity, skateboarding peaked around 1963 before it crashed just two years later in 1965.
To overcome this “crash” there were major developments that re-established skateboarding. For example, in 1995, the X Games by ESPN launched and it was the first major event to bring together extreme sports to crown the best in street skateboarding and vert skateboarding; producing some of skateboarding’s first true celebrities whose names became globally recognizable thanks to sponsorships and partnerships. However, what truly brought skateboarding back to the public eye was the popularity of video games in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The original Tony Hawk Pro Skater game that was released in 1999, for example, had high reviews and multiple sequels, each with a classic soundtrack, helping to launch the sport to new levels amongst the youth.
In addition, another development that propelled skateboarding across the world was the accessibility of content on a global scale. As YouTube grew, so did skateboarding video content and the opportunities to watch clips while at the skatepark to learn new moves or film your moves and upload them for the world to see launched skateboarding into a global phenomenon. As a strong niche sport with a continued rise in popularity, skateboard content creators had a reliable platform for growth, recognition, and thrillseekers all over the internet.
Internet and video game culture did aid in the growth of skateboarding, but the true culture has been built in the community within these skateparks. As a challenging sport that has brought strangers from all over the world together, to most, it’s more than just a sport, but a way of life. Through skating, you’ll meet people of all ages, ethnicity, and social statuses.
The skatepark is where differences are all welcome and everyone considers themselves a part of one community. Bringing people together regardless of skill or experience, skating is a sport that gives people a sense of belonging and inclusion. This can be said for competitions as well. Though they may be competing against one another, an inclusive and accepting culture is built among these skaters, no matter their background, who are all there contributing to the community of skateboarding.
Because skateboarding is so welcoming, it gives skaters a way to express themselves. Whether it be the way their boards are designed or what kind of tricks they display at the park and in competitions, skateboarding is fed by self-expression that invites the support of other skaters or non-skaters - all contributing to the diverse culture of skateboarding. At the skatepark, everyone has a mindset or goal to learn something new and create relationships with those who are trying to do the same. There will always be someone there to help you in your journey and you have the opportunity to do the same for someone else.
As well as a form of self-expression, it is also beneficial to those struggling with anxiety. Skaters need to take care of their bodies and mind to overcome the hurdles that come their way that can mirror the hurdles in their everyday lives. Through regular practice, skateboarding brings long-term physical, psychological and social benefits. The fear factor, and being able to confront it, give skaters a sense of control; control over inner thoughts and fears benefits those who overthink or struggle with anxiety through focus and dedication.
Skateboarding allows you to put aside your ‘this is impossible’ thoughts and fears to make you believe it is possible. The way you learn tricks and how to execute them, little by little, chips away at that fear. Creativity powers skateboarding and it is all about testing new and different ways to have fun on your board while also learning techniques. Similar to other variations of art, skateboarding allows you to disconnect from stress and express your inner thoughts. Through community, culture, self-expression, and entertainment, skateboarding has created a world of opportunities for people to move out of their comfort zones and connect with those around them who are trying to do the same.