Local skateboarders have mixed feelings

Skateboarding joining 2020 Olympic Games

Zach Sullivan, Reporter

In August of 2016, the International Olympic Committee voted unanimously to include skateboarding in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. With this vote, a heated debate about the future of skateboarding has been ignited. Many skaters believe it will change the individuality and creativity of skateboarding by abandoning its roots and the meaning behind it.

While skateboarding has been around for more than 50 years, it has always been somewhat of a subculture, taking place in parks and streets. If you tune into YouTube you can find thousands of videos of street skaters jumping over 16 stairs or even off of rooftops. On the other side of this argument, people believe skateboarding is in fact a sport, and skaters should be recognized for their athleticism and creativity, and reap the financial rewards and fame that come along with winning an Olympic medal. They also believe it will bring skateboarding mainstream, which to them is long overdue.

Cobi Henriquez, a 20 year old Bakersfield skater, says that adding skating to the Olympics is both a good and bad thing. Henriquez claims that adding skating to the Olympics is not selling out in his view. “It’s going to create more career opportunities for up and coming young skaters. As long as you use the money on good things, it’s cool. Paul Rodriguez is a perfect example. He uses skating to help support his family and his kid. If the opportunity comes to skate in the Olympics he should take it, anyone who is offered should. That’s not selling out at all to me,” he said.

Richie Acevedo, 16, claims that the impact of adding skating to the Olympics will only benefit skateboarding by changing the perception that skaters are just pot smokers flipping around on a board. “Adding skating to the Olympics will bring more respect to skating and help change people’s view of skating,” said Acevedo.

Artoro Martinez, 15, believes that adding skating to the Olympics is not only good for skating, but the Olympics as a whole. “I think adding it to the Olympics will bring more publicity to the Olympics. People who are interested in skating, but have never watched the Olympics will want to watch. This will create more money for the sport and help build more skate parks,” said Martinez.

Not everyone views skateboarding in the Olympics as a positive for the future. Local Bakersfield skater Darrell Harris, 17, has mixed emotions about skateboarding being in the Olympics. “I feel excited that skating is in the Olympics, but at the same time I’m disappointed. We already have big competitions like the X Games and Street League Skateboarding, so adding skating to the Olympics is kind of pointless.”

One of the biggest arguments critics of Olympic skating offer is that skateboarding was never meant to be in a venue like the Olympics. Skating was originally something that people would do for fun, and has now turned into an international sport that draws large crowds and lots of attention.

What used to be a counter-culture activity that took place in alleys and backroads has turned into a form of mainstream media entertainment. With several large sponsors from Red Bull to Nike supporting competitions, skateboarding has indeed become a fascination to many. Watching skaters attempt to fly over humungous sets of stairs and onto handrails that would scare the average human is utterly entertaining.

Jordan Mccullough, 20, says that skating is a sport that is not meant to be judged like others. “The problem is you have judges saying someone is the best, but some kid in LA can kick his butt.”

Paul Giyles, 17, also known as “Planz Rat,” says that skateboarding in the Olympics is bad for the sport. “Skating in the Olympics is selling out in a way. You have guys that aren’t in it for the love of skating anymore as much as they are in it for the money, and that’s wrong in my opinion. Skating is in your heart, and I’m not going to go and sell out and trash my heart.”

Greg Wilson, 27, who is sponsored by the local skate brand Active Ride Shop, claimed that until more information is available, he is not too sure what to think. “Yeah man I have no idea; until I know more about what they’re going to do I have no comment.”

Wilson isn’t alone in wondering what adding skateboarding to the Olympics means. A lot of people are questioning what format is going to be used, and how skaters will be judged.

Will it be the traditional street boarding, which has taken the internet by storm, or something else?

The Rip reached out to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) through email for more information regarding the preliminary competitions, how they will be formatted, and how they will be judged. The Committee directed questions regarding this to the International Roller Sports Federation (FIRS).

The Rip contacted FIRS by email and received no response as of this publication.