Issue #3: Bad Reputation

Abandoned Pool House in Hermosa Beach, CA. Picture taken and edited by me. (2014)

In every group, one bad seed can ruin its reputation. Gustavo Ghavami’s “Skateboarding Culture and its Social Stigma” explains how the origins of skateboarding created some bad seeds. How? Well, skateboarding originated in Los Angeles, California in the 60’s when surfers began to experiment with substitutions for surfing when the waves weren’t good. And who exactly began this sport? The Z-Boys, a surfing group are easily recognized for making skating revolutionary. They detached the wheels from their roller skates and began fixing them to planks of wood.

Once they had rudimentary skateboards, they needed “waves”. Because California in the 60’s was in a drought, many people drained their pools, which turned out to be ideal for wave-less surfers. Seems harmless, right? So how did skaters get a bad rep? Well, if the pools were not drained, kids would trespass into people’s homes, drain their pools, clean them, and skate them; they were dedicated as it took hours to do so, and soon enough cops caught on to their plan making it exhilarating for skaters to do this. Ghavami claims that, “Because of this it was an easy way for society to associate skateboarding with a rebellious nature as the sport at this point consisted of trespassing and running from the cops (Dogtown and Z-Boys)”. He also adds, Surfing, and the emerging “punk” scene’s strong connection to drugs (mainly the use of cannabis) influenced skateboarding throughout its birth (the history of skateboarding culture)”. However, when people think of surfing, they often do not correlate drugs and weed with that group, even though it was originally the same clan. He also writes, “Jay Adams part of the z-boys says “For the Dogtowners it was like if you didn’t do drugs, you couldn’t even hang out. It became a big part of our scene. There were guys that didn’t do drugs but to us they were just square” (Eisenhouer)”. Because of these factors, it is easy to see why society would look down upon skate culture, and why parents would not want their children to become apart of this culture. There were a lot of skaters that become drug addicts such as “Christian Hosoi, Brandon Novak, Lizard King (left), Antoine Dixon, Guy Mariano, Andrew Reynolds, Bam Margera, and the skater who pretty much started the z-boys, Jay Adams (Louison, Cole)”. These skaters were rolemodels for young skaters afte rthey made it big, so I understand why parents would be anti-skating. However, not every skater dis drugs. In fact, arguably the most well-known skaters in history, Tony Hawk is and has always been a big advocate for being anti-drugs.

Another interesting point Ghavami makes is that people do not look down upon other spoprts that abuse drugs such as steroids in baskeetball, baseball, football, and more- so why does society really act prejudicely towards skaters? I am not sure there is an answer with the exception to the lack of exposure and lack of compassion. People need to realize that skaters are just trying to be the best skater they can be. Where I am from, the South Bay, skating is huge, but there is still prejudice against skaters that aren’t “South Bay Locals”, who are mainly skaters that listen to local punk bands in addition to classic rock, funk, and music a larger population listen to. I have been at an abandoned house where the pool was drained and turned into a skate spot. People did graffiti and trash the inside of the house, however, it was going to be torn down the next month. They even claimed they would not have been there if the house still belonged to someone and if the house wasn’t being torn down. In my opinion, if skaters aren’t hurting anyone or vandalizing purposefully, they should be left to continue perfecting their craft. The skaters I know are some of the best people I know I do think it is out of ignorance that people alienate and act prejudicially towards skaters, however, I can see why this would be: due to its history and the bad seeds that contaminated the whole garden.

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