Growing up in the US at the beginning of the 2000s was a crazy time. People who played video games had Tony Hawk Pro Skater, kids watching Nickelodeon had Rocket Power, and skateboarding grew from a subculture into an extreme sport broadcasted on at least one of the ESPNs. Thanks to this amount of outside media, skateboarding was able to reach one of its highest moments in terms of popularity. This made new stars in the world of skateboarding that have still remained huge names in the culture despite a new class of skaters leading competitions. That may have changed all thanks to the Olympics, and the excitement of watching competitive skateboarding on one of the biggest stages.
Names like Bob Burnquist, Chad Muska, Bam Margera, Rob Dyrdek, and Stevie Williams still remain some of the more famous skateboarders for people that grew up during that time, but stopped actively watching skateboarding into adulthood(people like me). And thanks to his decade long game series, Tony Hawk is still skateboarding’s ambassador to the mainstream. This stagnation of representation in pop culture has definitely been broken with the Tokyo Olympics. Youthful skaters like Yuto Horigome, Momiji Nishiya, Rayssa Leal, and Kelvin Hoefler are going to explode into pop culture similar to that of the Lakai Fully Flared intro.
The level of excitement I felt from watching skateboarding live was one of my biggest takeaways though. I was at the edge of my seat with every run to the point that the competition started to not matter as much. I was simply excited to see everyone land tricks, and you could somewhat sense that from the competitors as well. It felt like each individual was competing against themselves instead of each other. Cheering each other on across team lines, congratulating each other for good runs, and supporting each other through the falls.
The competition was humbling as well. The difficulty of skateboarding is unlike anything else. It showed that even the best in the world could have an off day. For a society that is so laser focused on the end result and appearing perfect, being able to see just how difficult things are is relieving. Perhaps If people were able to see more talents in this way, the world would not have so many suffering from imposter syndrome.
With all that said, I believe that skateboarding is entering a new emergence that will lead to new stars and representatives for the culture. While those heavily participating in skateboarding will be weary of “posers” once again, the good that can come from more people being exposed to it and attempting to get on a board can only lead to greater opportunities for everyone involved.