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I Grew Up on a Skateboard

My very first skateboard was bought from the toy department at Sears when I was 7 years old.

by AdamSkyArtist

March 31, 2007

This was 1977. The only skateboards you could buy at the time were shaped like a squashed banana and made from a hard plastic. Skateboarding wasn't really a sport at that time - more of a pastime for juveniles. Who would have thought that 30 years later skateboarding would go from a distraction for children that nobody took seriously to an enormous cultural phenomenon and a multinational industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars?

I literally grew up on a skateboard. As skateboarding got more sophisticated, I kept up and got more sophisticated with my riding. When I grew too big to ride my little plastic surfboard for the street I graduated to a wood plank and nylon wheels, all adorned in bright florescent graphics, the tribal colours of being a teenager in the 80's. My street riding techniques went from launching my slight teenage frame down the biggest hill in the neighbourhood to learning basic parking lot tricks like ollies and rail slides.

Suddenly, the skateboarding scene just exploded in popularity, coming not a moment too soon for me to be old enough to have a little bit of pocket money for spending at the new skate shops that were popping up like weeds all over town. As teens we were now blessed with a plethora of amazing new decks, trucks and wheels to choose from. Parks filled with oceans of concrete waves were being constructed everywhere for our enjoyment. We shouted anthems of 'skateboarding is not a crime' at the cops who would bust our chops for catching big air off of the art gallery's steps or when we risked our lives slaloming between bumpers in heavy traffic.

Skateboarding in the late 80's became a fervor; an unrelenting youth movement. The sounds of summer became synonymous with the "click - slap - whiiirrrr" of decks hitting the pavement.

By the 1990's, skateboarding had become serious business with events like The X Games, Slam City Jam and pro tour exhibitions happening on any weekend in any city. Skateboarders were no longer just local heroes but now big time celebrities, pulling their own TV shows and licensing their names to video game franchises worth obscene amounts of money. The money; the fame; for guys who dedicated their lives to riding I saw it as well deserved. Skateboarders had become athletes, artists and innovators worthy of international recognition.

As I say, I grew up on a skateboard. When I was a little kid, skateboarding was an innocent distraction, unaware of its potential. As a teen, my friends and I discovered what could be done with just a plank of wood and four wheels and a renaissance of movement was born under enormous excitement. As adults, we found ourselves overwhelmed with how our underground pastime - something we felt was just ours had become a world wide corporate leviathan.

There was little hole in the wall skate shops run by life long enthusiasts to crappy kiosks in the malls with rinky-dink, cheap Made in China decks where nobody who really knew and loved skating would ever make a purchase.

Every new year we thought that skateboarding had pinnacled but it then it dawned on me that there was no pinnacle. Skating was now a permanent part of our culture. Even the cops stopped bugging us for skating on the street because there were just too many of us. There were more kids in to skateboarding which meant more kids who could teach us how to be better skaters. We fed off of each other's talents and as a community we got to be better skaters because of it.

In the end, all of the abstraction of the history of skateboarding matters but yet doesn't matter. It all comes back to the enjoyment and simplicity of a piece of wood and four wheels.

It's just skateboarding.


Adam Sky

Editor in Chief

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