I don’t know if “overlook” is the right word but I admit, I have probably been guilty of most of the things I’m about to write at one point in my life and I’m sure many of you can relate to this.
I’ve been longboarding “seriously” for close to a good 5 years now and I don’t know if that qualifies me to say the things I’m about to say but these are just some of the few problems and misconceptions I’ve come across as a longboarder.
1. Sponsored / Pro-riders don’t just skateboard everyday and bath in free gear
Okay, it is probably true that your favourite sponsored skate idol skateboards everyday and gets tons of products for free but really there is a lot more to it than this:
Sure, a few are lucky enough to live like that and I sure as hell wish I was one of them. But the reality is, many of them work their asses off to be able to live the lifestyle they do.
Those air tickets, registration fees, camera gear and plain ol living expenses gotta be paid somehow. Some are lucky to be actually working for their sponsors or even have their own skateboarding business. But most of them are probably stuck with your everyday job.
I’ve met many sponsored riders who work as engineers, pizza makers, account managers, fishermen and just about any other job you can think of. Most of them are real people with real lives and jobs beyond skateboarding.
Oh yeah, and if you’re looking to get sponsored just remember nothing comes for free. As much as a sponsor wants to support you, they expect you to help promote them and longboarding as much as possible. It’s a two-way street!
If you got the time, this is a really good writeup on being a sponsored rider.
2. Event organisers rarely get the credit they deserve
It’s very easy for people to diss event organisers over something tiny that skaters aren’t happy about but it seems really hard for organisers to get praise unless an event goes extremely well or close to flawless.
I’ve been on both sides before, an event participant and an event organiser. I remember completely writing off a race before because I had to wait over 4 hours before my heat started. Now, while I still I loved the whole experience, I gave no credit to the organising committee for even pulling everything together. Instead I praised the skaters and dissed the organisers for making me wait.
It was only after I organised our own legit race did I really learn to appreciate the hard work that goes into it. Sleepless nights, the heavy lifting, the bureaucratic bullshit, dealing with ridiculous requests.
Event organisers do it because they love the sport as much as you do. It’s not like they meant to screw up your qualifying time on purpose. They definitely didn’t mean to make you wait 2 hours for your practice runs. They are human like you and make mistakes.
So next time you are at a skate event, just remember it took months of prep work to get it together and there are a group of guys & girls who are sacrificing their own time so you can have a good time!
3. Respect everyone’s skate style
Longboarding has evolved so much over the past few years. Downhill skateboarders are going faster and freeriders are nailing crazier tricks everyday.
But it seems like these days, if you’re spotted with a cruiser board or if you don’t know how to throw down a standie, you’re dissed? Somebody told me the other day that a longboarder dissed him because he was learning hands down slides.
I don’t know about you, but I still remember a time when kids were busy doing this:
Okay, bad example but that’s just a classic everyone should watch.
Everyone has their own style and their own limits. A slalom skater may feel the same rush as a downhill skater. In the end, it’s still skateboarding and every individual expresses his/her passion in their own way. Just because they can’t nail a 100ft toeside standie doesn’t make them less of a skater than you.
The last 3 points are really more about what the public overlooks rather than skaters themselves.
4. Longboarding is not a waste of time
Lately, I’ve been told a lot to grow up, stop wasting my time longboarding and focus on more important things. And I tell them, longboarding has opened so many doors for me that I never even knew existed.
I’ve travelled to more places than I have ever been before I started skating. I’ve met so many new people from different backgrounds and cultures (many of them are still my closest friends to this day). It has taught me not to discriminate, to always keep your mind and heart open. Oh and I’m definitely getting in a lot more exercise than my sister who well, just stays at home watching TV.
These are amazing experiences that not many people get to live and is certainly not a waste of time!
Yes, maybe my time can be spent better volunteering at a shelter or trying to cure cancer but it beats spending my parents money at a mall, buying a new smartphone so I can stay indoors and snapchat my friends.
We have real jobs and responsibilities so how we choose to spend our free time is our choice!
5. There is actually a viable commercial side to the sport
This is sorta like an extension of the point above. A lot of people seem very shocked when I tell them that you can actually make an honest living off longboarding. And I’m not just talking about working part-time at your local skate shop.
More and more longboarders are starting up their own skate businesses (board companies, skate shops, wheels, clothing etc) and making a decent living out of it. The industry is growing and as it grows, so do the job opportunities. Whether you’re a big or small skate business, accountants are still needed, designers are still needed, sales & marketing staff are still needed.
A skate business still fundamentally runs the same way as any other business. Their employees hold just as much responsibility and work just as hard as your staff. Just because we sell skateboards doesn’t mean we have no future.
6. We’re not stupid, blind or retarded
True story: A bunch of us are skating at a residential hill, me and a few other guys are taking a break on the side when a car speeds past us, pulls over and a middle-aged man starts yelling at us.
“Douchebag: Do you know what you are doing is really dangerous. This road is meant for cars not you. Sooner or later you’re gonna get knocked down and killed. I don’t want your blood on my hands.
Us: We have a spotter down there and we know our limits.
Douchebag: That’s not good enough I could have run you over just now.
Us: At the speed you were driving, you could have run over a child on a tricycle too.
Douchebag: Well, I’m calling the cops on you for vandalising public property by leaving marks on the roads with your wheels.“
Yes, we can see you driving. Yes, we know it is a little dangerous to be bombing hills but that’s why we wear helmets and skate smart. Yes, please threaten to have me arrested for skating and I’ll tell you which law says otherwise.
No, those thane lines are not permanent they will wash off like chalk once it rains. No, that is not us losing control, that is called a shutdown slide.
Contrary to the ridiculous stigma attached to being a skateboarder, not all of us are reckless and asking to die. Not all of us are thieves or drug addicts. We are actually pretty nice decent people if you took the time to get to know us.
Whether you agree with me or just think I should shut up and skate, just remember to never take skateboarding too seriously or you’ll find yourself not having fun one day. Oh and watch this video, it still gets me stoked to this day:
About the contributor:
Longboarding has been her life since 2008 and she has raced down her fair share of hills to know she loves downhill skateboarding. She recently moved to Vancouver to try and make skateboarding a bigger part of her life. Ching is currently working as Marketing & Team Manager at RipTide Sports Inc and rides for Jati Boards.