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An article that Steve linked on the Skatedork message boards caught my eye the other day. The article said that skateboarders have no right skating the streets, and that our sport should be banned in every city across America. The author went so far as to say that all skateparks should be torn down. Tax dollars shouldn't be wasted on the ungrateful. It also mentioned that we were arrogant if we think that people should be sympathetic to our plight. Skateboarders are nothing more than vandals in his eyes. Criminals have no right to plead for sympathy.
Unfortunately, I agreed with many of the statements he makes. We as skateboarders are wrong in what we do. I accepted that a long time ago. I know that in our pursuit for artistic expression we are unintentionally destroying the infrastructure of society. It goes beyond blackened curbs. Chipped $5,000 marble benches are underneath some of that wax.
Now I know I sound like a hypocrite, but that's far from it. I simply understand that society is justified in trying to ban skateboarding. I do disagree with stopping skateparks from existing though. Skateparks are always a good place to go when you don't feel like being harassed on any given day. They also provide a place for young skaters to go without parents worrying about their kids getting arrested. Skateparks will never replace street skating, but those who don't feel the need to tear up curbs in front of office buildings will use them.
Ex-games, Nike ads, and the like all flood popular culture. Many skaters are happy to see skateboarding entering the mainstream. They think that this will lead to a better acceptance of skateboarding in society. I just don't see it this way. This exposure merely informs the public and showcases the damage that skateboarding does to objects.
I'm sure the average citizen of America had no idea skateboards could "jump" three feet off the ground and grind across a ledge to make it black. Media exposure has probably solved the mystery as to why a buildings benches, ledges, and handrails look so abused. The explosion of skateboarding's culture has also led many towns to enact laws directed against skateboarders. Exposure to skateboarding doesn't lead to sympathy toward skaters, it merely creates paranoia. People are afraid of skateboarders wrecking their communities and companies. Laws are often put in place to prevent the problem before it starts.
With more laws like this will I spend most of my time in a skatepark? I doubt it, however as I grow older I find that I am forced to stay away from places I know are trouble. I've learned to seek out spots that are "tolerant" of the presence of skaters. Driving over an hour for a session is a common affair.
Street skating will never die out. There will always be those willing to risk fines, harrassment, and arrest. There also be those who will find the gaps in security and skate their favorite spots undetected. Then there will be those who grow weary of trying so hard and will only skate spots they know are "safe". The world has been created for us. It's a shame to bottle it and try to sell it as a skate "park".
I'll see you on the street.