Comment Section: On the definition of “Real Skateboarding”

 In Skate Nerd

By Max Dubler

Once again, somebody in mainstream skateboarding has declared that longboarding is not Real Skateboarding, producing predictable howls of disagreement from longboard dudes and a useless slap fight in the comment section. As this is a fairly frequent occurrence, I feel a duty to attempt to talk sense into my fellow longboard nerds.

I have been skateboarding for about 20 years. While I may not be the best at it, I really enjoy it.

My initial attraction to skateboarding had a lot to do with the individual, free-form nature of it. Nobody is in charge. There are no rules. You don’t have to wear the uniform. You can do whatever you want.

After all these years, I am not interested in other people’s ideas about what is and is not Real Skateboarding. As far as I’m concerned, Real Skateboarding is whatever the fuck you want to do standing up on a platform with with four wheels and a lean to steer turning mechanism.

Similarly, I am not really wrapped up in who does and does not get to call themselves A Real Skateboarder. Lots of skateboarders are pretty cool people, but riding skateboards by itself doesn’t make you all that special. If you skate, you’re a skateboarder. Easy.

Of course, lots of people, many of whom spend their time arguing in Instagram comment sections, do not share this attitude. To them, the definition of Real Skateboarding is of the utmost importance because their whole identities as people rest upon their status as Real Skateboarders. It boils down to something like this:

Skateboarding is cool. Skateboarders are cool. I am a skateboarder. Therefore, I am cool.

For these folks, the existence of uncool people doing uncool skateboarding is a big problem: if these losers are skateboarders and those dorky tricks are skateboarding, that means skateboarding isn’t cool and skateboarders are losers. Something has to give. They’re not going to let go of the idea that skateboarding makes them cool, so they’ve concluded that longboarding is not skateboarding*. The logical progression is as follows:

Skateboarding is cool. I am a skateboarder. The fact that I am a skateboarder means that I am cool. Longboarding is not cool. Therefore, longboarding is not skateboarding.

This is, of course, bullshit. Skateboarding is not one singular thing (see our starting definition). It’s many different things to different people, and it changes over time. It isn’t necessarily cool. Plenty of lame people skateboard.

Similarly, the line between “skateboarding” and “longboarding” is never clearly defined, but always has to do with what self-appointed spokespeople for skateboarding think is cool. Bombing hills and doing powerslides is cool stylish skateboarding, but only if you’re riding equipment that doesn’t work well for it and filming with a VX1000. Doing the same thing on a bigger wheelbase with softer wheels is longboarding, which is definitely not cool*. Shaped boards and soft wheels are only ok if the wheelbase is under 15″ and you’re dressed in the skateboarding uniform**.

I’m a grown ass man. Skateboarding is something I do, not who I am. I don’t wear the skateboard uniform or give a shit about whether some random assholes who presume to speak for all of skateboarding think I’m cool.

So I say to my fellow longboard nerds, let it go. Street dudes are never going to think we’re Real Skateboarders. If bombing hills on big boards with soft wheels makes us dorks, fine. Being cool is no fun anyway.

*Except when Mark Gonzales does it, because he’s totally cool.

**The skateboard uniform consists of Vans or Nike Janoskis, Dickies chinos, a skateboard company t shirt, a flannel and a beanie or five panel hat. If you need a visual reference, pick up Thrasher, where you can learn to dress like a creative, individualist skateboarder who happens to dress just like all the other creative, individualist skateboarders.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the Department of State, or any other entity of the U.S. Government. It should be quite obvious that the Department of State has not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this post.

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