Since inception, skateboarding has been identified as an unapologetic and rebellious movement which did not subscribe to any rules or guidelines. Neither did it need to be well defined. The practice has always had a religious following of diverse people who range from celebrities to street kings who embraced the old school style and ultimately evolved with the industry to the modern transition shredders. The cultural evolution has created what is now just known as a lifestyle more than a sport.
It is believed that skateboarding was invented in California by a bunch of surfers in the early 1950’s. The original inspiration was from water surfing, they imagined using the same principle but instead practiced what they termed as “sidewalk surfing”. The original design of the board used a box fitted with roller skating wheels at the bottom. Since they did not have many resources, they opted to use clay in making of the wheels and this made it hard to control the skateboard resulting in many injuries. At this time, skating was considered a pre-surfing practice and could at times be done when someone was bored with water surfing. Over time, the skateboarding started getting more practiced and the design evolved to longboards made from planks, and then layers of pressed wood decks.
After the invention ages, skateboarding’s popularity continued to increase with more people practicing the sport which even pushed surfers to divert much of their time to this new type of sport. Skateboard manufacturing companies also started popping up and those already in existence saw a spike in their sales. Most of these were companies who were originally manufacturing surf products. These companies also began to organize competitions, mainly downhill slalom or freestyle. Later on, there was a national Women’s skateboard championship which was won by one Patti McGee who was later to become the sports spokesperson. There was a slight decrease in skateboarding in the later 1960’s but the enthusiastic supporters pushed on and maintained the sport’s popularity.
The early days of 1970’s saw a breakthrough with the invention of the urethane skateboard wheels by Frank Nasworthy. The wheels are still in use even up to date. The wheels invention further pushed the popularity of the sport creating interest even for people who were skeptical in the early days. The wheels were much easier to use and control compared to the clay ones and resulted in fewer falls and injuries. More competitions were introduced around this time pushing the sport’s popularity further. At this time, professional skaters started building identifiable characters and popularity from the sport, such people included Alan Gelfand alias “Ollie” from his invention of the Ollie maneuver. His invention was the parent company of today’s skating moves. In the late 70’s, insurance rates were on the rise resulting in a decrease in skating interest which also lead to the closure of several skateparks.
1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s
These years saw a tremendous increase in skateboarding acceptance. From the closure of the skateparks, people started building their own ramps and practicing on them. The street nature made it possible for skaters to use the already available obstacles as skating aids. This increased the popularity in the underground movement. The introduction of VCR in the 1980’s also played a part in further increasing the popularity and even film companies started incorporating skateboarding in their movies. The 80’s saw a big increase in popularity resulting in massive adoption. The 90’s took over the already established popularity with an ESPN competition held in 1995 attracting thousands of spectators and increasing interest even for kids. The 2000’s saw the introduction of skating videos games and since then the trend has grown to what it is today.