July 15 (Reuters) – As soon as seen as a sport for misfits and goof-offs, skateboarding makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo with the blessing of one among its Godfathers, Tony Hawk, who presents a cautionary word to always remember your roots.
Born on American streets by bored surfers searching for one thing to do when the waves had been calm, skateboarding way back forged apart its slacker picture because it filtered into the sporting mainstream, rising right into a multi-billion greenback trade.
Regardless of possessing a worldwide footprint and heaps of the youthful vitality the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC) is determined to faucet into, skateboarding is late to the Olympic social gathering following the arrival of snowboarding, skicross, BMX, seaside volleyball and others.
However now that it’s a part of the Video games lineup there’s a perception amongst many within the sport, together with Hawk, that the Olympics wants skateboarding greater than skateboarding wants the Olympics.
“I feel it’s cool we now have come from this unlikely underground, counter-culture scene to be in all probability one of many highlights of the Summer season Video games,” Hawk instructed Reuters. “I by no means had a stance that was anti-Olympics.
“I used to be all the time extra baffled why the mainstream did not recognise skateboarding as one thing that was a optimistic affect and a optimistic outlet.”
Now 53 and a father of 4, Hawk says he has all the time embraced the misfit tag, however on the similar time deftly harnessed the road and company forces pulling on the sport, constructing a skateboarding model that has made him independently rich.
That form of fame and success is normally the kiss of demise for cultural icons, who’re shortly labelled sellouts sending believers looking for a brand new chief with insurgent credentials.
Hawk averted such a fall from grace by backing up his “avenue cred” with NBDs (rider slang for By no means Been Achieved tips) that earned him respect on the streets at the same time as he moved into the company towers.
On the 1999 X-Video games, Hawk cemented his standing as a skateboarding legend when he grew to become the primary to land a 900 (2 1/2 revolution aerial spin), a feat described because the skateboarding equal of Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile.
“On the core of skateboarding, particularly its deep roots, you possibly can’t faux it,” defined Hawk. “The youngsters who’re skateboarding see the people who find themselves profitable at it as respectable and so they have nice respect for them.
“It is not like any individual is placing on a faux public persona to achieve notoriety.”
When snowboarding joined the Olympic lineup on the 1998 Nagano Winter Video games there was simple angst.
The boarding group was conflicted, fretting the Olympics would suffocate the creativity and freedom that was a part of its DNA.
Nearly each new sport that has adopted snowboarding into the Olympic membership has wrestled with an identification disaster.
In contrast to these different sports activities, who wanted the Olympics to get the phrase out, skateboarding had already arrived as a cultural phenomenon.
“Snowboarding when it first obtained launched none of our sports activities, motion sports activities, had damaged into the mainstream but in any important approach,” defined Hawk. “So when that occurred it was a sudden bounce forward from being underground to being on the Olympic stage.
“Fortunately skateboarding obtained to undergo this development cycle. Skateboarding is as large as any Olympic sport and has mainstream sponsors, has large occasions.
“So it does not appear that so far-fetched now that it will be held underneath the Olympic banner.”
Hawk describes the game as a giant tent with room for everybody.
But skateboarding and people who market, sponsor and revenue from it perceive that to thrive it should keep related to the counter-culture roots from which it was born.
Hawk and one among his sponsors Vans have mixed with non-profit Skateistan to help the inventive tradition of skateboarding by empowering youngsters via skateboarding.
He believes the Olympic stage will solely lengthen skateboarding’s attain.
“There are these hardcore or soulful skaters that need to do it on their very own phrases, they do not need to be judged by anybody else,” conceded Hawk.
“There can be these individuals over right here who’re high-performance opponents that may thrive within the Olympic setting and other people over there that do not need to be in comparison with anybody as a result of it’s their artwork kind but they are often profitable at it otherwise.”
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Modifying by Toby Davis
Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.