I have been a keen observer of the shared interest of gravity athletes for over 45 years. I started skateboarding when I was ten years old in 1969. At that time it was "Sidewalk Surfing". I learned to use my board to ride down hills, and as daily transportation all over town. I was totally dedicated to skateboarding and considered competent. As skateboarding morphed into a more challenging terrain contest using swimming pools, ramps, and "street skate" tricks, those who did not adapt were relegated to obsolescence and ridicule. It became no longer cool to just ride for the sheer joy of it. One had to be more dedicated or they were labelled as poseurs. I was not a true "Thrasher".

This separation of the various genres within the sport has grown larger. Today there are the hard core street skaters. "Thrashers" doing difficult and painful to learn jumps and tricks everywhere. They consider themselves the only true representatives of the sport. There are also the downhill speed sliders who are shunned and disrespected by the "Thrashers". There are the campus cruisers and commuters, the dancers, freeriders, tech sliders, and long distance pushers as well. They all seem to occupy different social groups and do not mix with the others.

I also began snow skiing at the same age of ten. A similar schism evolved in snow sports between the traditional downhill snow skiers and the upstart short ski revolution skiers of the mid 1970's. "Short skis suck" was the chant of local ski bums at the time. Freestyle bump skiers were undisciplined, and ballet skiing was stupid, etc. Then came the snowboard riders of the early 1980's. Naysayers would say the snow boarders were scraping all of the fresh snow off the slopes. They were unruly and a nuisance. How curious that this  non traditional, action sport loving type of human would exhibit such an ego based prejudice. Here we are, adapting the human experience to do things based upon innovative inventions that allow people to challenge their physical limitations. Yet we get immediately set in our ways and disrespect the mutations and innovations that follow.

This separation of seemingly alike athletes causes a splintering in the ability to gather and form a more powerful group as one. The self induced feeling of speed, with the wind in your face, is a universal pleasure. It's all good! It seems humans still tend to focus on our differences rather than on what we obviously have in common. Can we all just get along Brothers and Sisters?  

Peace. J.T.

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