Skateboarding is finally getting the respect it deserves. What used to be considered a dangerous and reckless hobby is now being accepted as a mainstream sport. The momentum has become so positive, that there is a strong possibility of skateboarding being included as an official sport in the 2012 Olympics in London.
The history of the sport is very mixed and dates back to the 1950's when the first skateboard was invented. It resembled a scooter with the undercarriage consisting of roller-skate wheels. Take the push-bar out and - a skateboard was born.
Skateboarding first rocketed to fame in the 1960's when over fifty million skateboards were sold in a three-year period. The first contest was held in 1963, at Hermosa Beach, Southern California. Then suddenly, 'experts' declared it 'unsafe', urging parents not to buy skateboards. The craze for the sport died almost as quickly, as it had surged.
The next popularity phase came in the 1970's and 1980's when new technology allowed for skateboards that provided better traction and speed. The look of skateboards also changed, going from being just six to seven inches in width, to over nine inches, which provided better stability. Some of the best skateboarding 'tricks' were invented during this time, most of which are credited to Rodney Mullen. He is responsible for the majority of variations around the 'Ollie' including the Flatboard Ollie, the Kickflip, Heelflip and the 360-flip.
The rise in popularity resulted in the opening of a lot of skateboard parks. However, soon attendance started to slow down and the cost of insurance and liability was so high that most of them shut down, resulting in the sport dying once again.
The sport's third surge in popularity can be attributed largely to ESPN's "Extreme Games", which brought into the limelight amazing young skateboarders, and popularized the sport not only in the US but also all over the world. Almost every city in the world now has skateboard parks with the biggest ones found in the most unexpected places like Shanghai, China and Calgary, Canada.
This time around, it seems like the sport is here to stay. According to a sports research firm, there are more than 12 million skateboarders in the US today, suggesting that the sport is more popular than even baseball. Also, for the first time in its history, professional skateboarders can make a living, just skateboarding.
Having said that however, this sport is not to be taken lightly, as it is prone to a lot of injuries. There are a number of 'Skating Clubs' that teach young kids how to skateboard safely. One of them, based in San Francisco , is called the San Francisco Skate Club. The club focuses on teaching and mentoring kids ages 8-13 on the techniques of skateboarding. All-day skateboarding sessions include small group lessons with a sponsored skateboarder and meetings with local professional skateboarders. To learn more go to www.sfskateclub.com.
We have two awesome videos for you to watch. The first one features the famous Rodney Mullen, while the second one features students at one of sfskateclub's typical all-day sessions. Enjoy!