I started skateboarding in 1975 and at that time you had a wide variety of skaters. Men, women from 6 to 60..yep…it’s true…over 20 million folks out there skating. And there was variety in terrain…freestyle, parks (just starting up), pools, downhill, slalom. When skating died its second death in the late 70’s/early 80’s it went underground. Thrasher helped fuse things with a punk rock ethic and Transworld Mag balanced things with a “skate and create” attitude. Between the two mags, over 800,000 readers were reached. High times, indeed.
With the third death of skateboarding (circa late 80’s/early 90’s) the focus of skating was changed primarily to street and ollie based tricks. Skateboarding shoes/clothing became the key element to the business re-emerging. Lifestyle is a word that is bantered around quite a lot these days…For what it’s worth, the folks who make sugar water/beef jerky etc have had a field day with the skate lifestyle. That’s why energy drinks can afford to sponsor a lot of the street skating competitions. They make a whackload of money as a result of throwing a ton of marketing dollars at skateboarding.
Longboarding emerged as something quite different. It doesn’t have millions of dollars being thrown at it by the sugar water companies…or by the beef jerky folks. Heck, even the shoe companies can’t get their head around the longboard phenomena. It puzzles them…but they are happy that longboarders chew through a lot of shoes (just like their street skating brethren)
What am I trying to say is that longboarding might spawn a Tony Hawk video game. It might spawn a whole new division of Etnies. And who knows, maybe MacDonalds will want to sponsor a downhill race. For now, think of longboarding as an invisible iceberg. It’s accessible. It’s fun. It’s pretty much inclusive (although that is changing) and it can be as gnarly as you want. It offers something different within the world of skateboarding. Unlike street, there is a vast array of product that is varied. Sure, longboarding has got some hype but most of the action is taking place on line. You won’t see anything about longboarding in the other skate mags (with the exception of the Skateboarders Journal and Skate Slate). For some reason, Sector 9, the BIGGEST skateboard company in the world is routinely ignored. That’s a shame because the mags/websites have missed an opportunity to really explore all the great things that longboarding offers.
Many people (especially street skaters) dismiss longboarding. This is happening less frequently, but the distaste and resentment is there. Ironically, some of the most bitter skaters, once they experience all the joy that longboarding offers become some of its greatest proponents.
Until some media account planner at some big agency connects the dots, longboarding will remain pretty much the invisible iceberg with respect to mass media.