This month’s article will be, once again, a bit more of a personal opinion than a factual analysis of extreme sports. And so, without further ado, let’s talk about skateboarding—particularly how it influenced America.
This artistic sport gained popular with surfers during 1958 when one surfer, who was either incredibly bored or a genius, attached roller skate wheels onto a board to “surf” on the sidewalk. This is what its original name was: sidewalk surfing. The sport took off—eventually becoming the modern day with the iconic skateboard shape we know and love.
This era in America featured icons like Woodstock, Michael Jackson, VW vans, and Andy Warhol. The age of skateboarding and surfing in the late 1900’s also birthed a new mindset: one of individualism, defiance, and freedom. Many see skateboarders as long-haired, swearing, smoking, living-in-a-van types of people. This picture is pretty accurate—considering that many skaters are… well, long-haired, swearing, smoking, living-in-a-van kind of people. Skating, in particular, is what spurred on this lifestyle over luxury movement.
Fundamentally, despite the negative connotations, this spirit of the free pursuit of pleasure is what sets America apart from every other culture in that living in a van and living solely for the pursuit of pleasure is authorized—if not lauded. While it is not necessarily God-honoring, it still is a central pillar of America and her allure.
Furthermore, the skating-culture has greatly influenced modern American fashion. Look down at your feet. Even non-skaters wear these shoes: Vans. Vans are icons of skate parks the nation over with their distinctive slogan “off the wall” encouraging their customers to take their skills and lives to a whole new level of creativity and talent. Furthermore, the cultural icon of the skateboard appears ubiquitously in fashion: from shirts to sunglasses to bottle-openers to socks. The fact that this sport has permeated even the most fundamental aspects of American culture proves that skateboarding is woven into the fabric of America.
Through its evolution, the skateboard has become an icon of American culture through the mindset it embodies and its presence in fashion. Although many scorn them, the modernist ideals of the sport are a part of what sets America apart from the rest of the world.