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Feb 20, 2003 to Feb 6, 2013

Gnarcissus on Olympus

Skateboarding is Coming to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. The “sport”, was chosen along with a handful of others, (surfing, baseball, climbing, karate) for inclusion in the next set of Games. Some serious mixed and polarizing feelings have been engendered on all sides by this decision.

While this post pertains to skateboarding, I’m sure there’s crossover spill for each of these lifestyle activities that have deep personal and often iconoclastic attachments, with corps of aficionados who eschew commercialization. There is even an online line petition asking the Olympic Committee to remove skateboarding, asserting skateboarding is not a “Sport”, and should not be set up for exploitation and subjugation to Olympic formats.

Amidst hardcore skate advocates there is also controversy. Skateboarding’s entrance was sponsored by the roller skating/roller blading lobby (the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports), which will, with the IOC formed International Skateboarding Federation have authority and oversee details regarding rules and regulations guiding the competition. There will be street and park elements. Men's and women's contests. 

With the decision to include skateboarding- which is on a trial basis- the Olympic committee has made a concerted effort to reach out to youth markets, expanding its chances for relevance into the future. IOC President Thomas Bach said, “We want to take sport to the youth. With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect any more that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them. "

There has been a lobbying effort to include skateboarding in the Olympics, going all the way back to a time roughly concurrent with Brattleboro trying to get a skatepark. “I’ve always believed that if skateboarding was properly protected and supported, its appearance on the Olympic stage could change the world,” said Gary Ream, Tokyo 2020 Skateboarding Commission Chairman and ISF President.

What remains to be seen is will the Olympic skateboarding explosion happen, with all the attending corporate fanfare and financial feeding frenzy, including World changing potential, before Brattleboro will be able to get a park built?


Gnarcissus gazed fixedly into the pool. Palm-sized tile-coping fit the arch of his hand as he bent down to judge the vertical drop. Only a few feet, manageable, but what looked troubling was the transition, which seemed awful tight. How tight? Normally a radius the size of a hula hoop is nice, with space for easy landing. This pool had a basketball sized curve to its bottom, it was going to be a hairy drop.


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Oh well

Brattleboro kids will have to compete in swimming or something else. Or move.

It's comically pathetic how long it is taking to pour some concrete in a small area. An entire 4 lane interstate bridge is being built in less time. The Brooks House burned down and was rebuilt in less time. Two new fire stations and a police station will be done sooner.



iffy proposition?

I can't remember the details, but if the skatepark is dependent on private funding, that is always an iffy proposition.


absolutely right

I argued against this from the beginning. Having the Rec. Dept. and Town control the project, but not have to take ownership responsibility, was a flawed approach. It put BASIC in a forever beseeching position, always scrambling for crumbs (from a very cash-poor crowd) and it allows the Powers-That Be- to say, "Oh well", when momentum stalls, with no skin off their backs.

It's skaters who lose out, but also, both community as a whole, and the idea of functional citizen participation.


no skin off their backs

I had wondered if the 'liability' issues were an impediment to town control. Skateboarding is an usually 'high flying' sport that might scare off a town from putting it under its wing. I wonder if the national safety stats of skaters belie the notion that the sport is unsafe?


Sibyl Says

Gnarcissus, having grown weary of his plight, and the questions that dogged his so-called identity, decided to make the trip to Delphi. He hoped to find meaning about the riddle of the skatepark. After a grueling ride, he at last arrived at the Oracle. Once inside, he bounced those many questions that seemed to be asked over and over, trying to drill to the core of the matter.

The priestess on duty did her best to interpret the proclamations. "Yes it's as safe or safer than any other semi-risky life-giving activity. ER visit stats has it pretty far down the list, well under basketball, baseball, football, hockey, even believe it or not, golf...And Yes the town can cover it under its existing policy just like swimming and summer camp games."

"Why then," wondered Gnarcissus, "the continuing stigma?" The priestess beckoned, urging him to come close so that she might whisper a secret in his ear.  Gnar puzzed long and hard over her mumbled missive and never knew for sure if she said, "Don't depend, or don't deep end ..on others".  In any case, somehow, he had gotten what he was seeking, and was no longer addled by dissembling or procrastination.


And, the saga continues...

In that case, then, that it passes the test well over the bar of safety concern, it falls into related budgetary concerns of the Rec. Dept. and Town and RTM.

Can Gnarcissus buck up to return to the well of officialdom yet again? Only the Oracle knows.



Back to the original story, won't adding skateboarding be a bit like adding snowboarding? That is, some really rich, well-practiced folks will compete, and they'll probably have a don't give a care attitude, and they'll of course, win gold because they are from the US.

Soccer leagues in the US are very much pay for play in many states. Kids and they parents pay small annual fortunes to play, and there is money in winning and aiming for the gold. Poor kids might be better at the game, but they get"cut" from the very first, intro team due to lack of funds, and remain on the poverty-based sidelines for life.

How do we make sure everyone who can skateboard has a chance?


Great Question, Alas

As you yourself said at the start, the Olympics are not a venue for 'everyone', they are for the elite of the elite. We plebs just get to pry the paywall and peek at selected highlights. Skateboarding already has X-Games and Street League to foster podium topping performers in that arena.

The everyone you reference, can derive their own gold on their own terms, that's why skating is seen by so many as more Art than Sport. Of course it's good to have a venue, however modest, to develop one's chops. We cant seem to manifest that here*. I can't help but find it (pathetic / appalling / depressing / embarrassing), to live in a town where even modest proliferation of this Art or Sport, call it what you will, is so long beleaguered and/or prohibited.

*excepting the boys and girls club skate-garage, and/or illegal sessions wherever they may go down


attach engines to them?

Decriminalizing skateboarding around town would be a nice step, at least until an official venue opens and preferably forever. Any non-gasoline transportation should be encouraged.

If someone could get to work on a bike or skateboard rather than by car, we should like that, right? Right now, that skateboarder would likely break town ordinance.



Of course electric, motorized boards do already exist. Including this model, which is getting rave reviews.

Pretty much, it's a skateboard with an electrically motorized wheelbarrow-type tire, in the center. Balances and brakes like a Segway. On or off road.

Do we want to encourage or squash such innovation, here in our self acclaimed One-and-Only?


Decriminalizing skateboarding around town would be a nice step

I bet only a handful of stuffies are responsible for that discriminatory ordinance.


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