DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE

Do We care Who Wins The Olympic Gold in Tokyo?

Skateboarding changed a long time ago.
POSTEDBYSTEPHEN MCGURK

You’re at that spot that you keep getting hassled at - the cops pull up.
You shout - “Hey you wouldn’t be out here telling badminton players to piss off, would you? We’re in training for the Olympics bro.”
The cops leave you alone.
Fantasy land, right?
Maybe not.
Your spot might get a little less aggro with Olympic champion skaters to name-drop.

Right. So they’ve pushed the Olympics back a year. Fair enough, maybe some of those track & field cats would benefit from an extra years training. But it’s Sunday the 25th of July 2021 at Ariake Urban Sports Park, Tokyo, Japan and Nyjah Huston is about to roll, Poppy Starr Olsen is ready, Pedro Barros is gearing up. But are you even watching? Should you care?
Look, I’m not about to dump on Olympic skaters. Fuck no. We just need to consider where being an Olympic sport pushes that side of skating. And on the face of it is this – skateboarding changed a long time ago – grabbing that Olympic gold for it is just a result of the symptoms.

The fact is there’s a tonne of reasons skateboarding will rule at the Olympics but most of us are worried about it looking lame on that big bland stage.
But what’s the fallout gonna be after the five-circle circus leaves town?
Sure there’s gonna be damage. It’s ironic how legends fought their whole lives to keep skateboarding alive - keep the skate shops open, and build new parks. Now skateboarding is handed on a golden Olympic plate, to everyone, universally.
And it’s maybe not what we want – it’s not organic – and it’ll fucking piss you off when screws turn up to the park in the freshest gear - and suck.

But look at those sick golf guys in 2016 I hear you all screaming.
Yeah? What?
Didn’t they get loads of cash-money pumped in afterwards?
Yeah, they did. So?
So doesn’t that mean skateboarding will too? And that local skate park you’ve been trying to get built for a decade might finally get the green light?
Well. Yeah. Ok - it might. But that’s due to loads of background grinder’s hard work over the years pushing the agenda. And don’t forget, a freshly built park off the back of Olympic success could bring a bunch more ‘Skater-Moms’ and their offspring. And a load of failed-jocks with bum shoulders ‘trying-out’ for the legitimised National skateboard team.
Will a new generation rise who are in the bowl getting hammered by their personal coach instead of getting hammered with their friends?

What we definitely don’t want from the Olympic sessions are grimly memorised routines and ‘must hit’ tricks for the no-doubt radical judges viewing on. Then it becomes some rhythmic gymnastics shit - spinning a ribbon around to a waterfront stadium with no real skate fans there.
Or are we gonna see skaters attack the park differently every time they hit it? It’s not much of a stab in the dark to say it won’t be experimental come the finals. They’ll have their runs ingrained as much as the Cool-Runnings crew knew the corners in the bath.

What I will care about are the human stories of the Olympic Games. That’s what matters more to skateboarding. These new kids coming up talk about being super-competitive. And that’s cool to have goals and challenge yourself, but skating always felt like it was about being better than your last self, not about being better than the other guy.
Sure you look around at people who are clearly sick and envy after their tricks. But just as much props go to groms when they nail their first kick-flip.

OK. So whoever wins Skateboarding Olympic Gold in 2021 is gonna be huge, no doubt – and “Yayy” for them. The Wheaties box awaits.
But I can’t see any of the Deathwish crew being bothered to represent at the Olympics after their latest edit. Can you?

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