Why Skaters Hate the Olympics: Unraveling the Controversy in Skateboarding’s Debut

Explore why skaters are disgruntled over skateboarding Olympic debut. Delve into the coverage, commentary, and representation issues.

The relationship between skateboarding and the Olympics has always been a topic of heated debate. Many purists of the sport believe that the soul and essence of skateboarding are compromised when it’s thrust into the mainstream spotlight of the Olympic Games. They argue that the raw, rebellious nature of skateboarding clashes with the polished and corporate structure of the Olympics. In this blog, we’ll explore the reasons behind this discord and why many skaters harbor strong feelings against their sport’s inclusion in the world’s most prestigious athletic event.

Why did the Olympic skateboarding coverage leave skaters feeling blue?

One significant gripe was the overall coverage of the event. Finding an uninterrupted event stream was the first hurdle for someone like myself, who spends more time on four wheels than sitting in front of a cable TV. The NBC Sports app, my first port of call, decided to play hardball by kicking me out after 30 minutes and demanding my non-existing TV provider information.

Image of a skateboarder performing in the olympics.
Image of a skateboarder performing in the olympics.

To add injury to insult, the live feed decided to take inspiration from the ad breaks every other minute, leading to an awkward breakdance between the two. Imagine this: skaters flying through their line of tricks, and voila! We’ve got an ad playing. Talk about killing the vibe!

Unfortunately, the commentator’s box seemed more like a bystander to the spectacle than a guide to the uninitiated Olympic audience. My ears picked up more incorrect names for tricks than I’d like, leading to a barrage of generic “amazing trick” descriptions that lacked the depth needed to understand the nuance of this insane sport.

Every skater would agree that capturing the killer action is essential to any skateboarding event. Unfortunately, the Olympics seemed to fall flat on this front.

Image of the olympic logo at night.
Image of the olympic logo at night.
My favorite complete skateboard (at the moment):

Enjoi Whitey Panda Complete Skateboard

Why skaters hate the olympics: unraveling the controversy in skateboarding's debut | 61vn95mf7ql. Ac sl1184 | skateboard salad
My favorite complete skateboard (at the moment):

Enjoi Whitey Panda Complete Skateboard

I had my board stolen a few years ago and was forced to quickly replace it with a complete. I got one with an Enjoi deck and loved it so much that I still buy the Whitey Panda deck each time I need a new deck. This complete with budget-friendly, beginner-friendly parts, but I still swear by it.

Why do skaters hate the Olympics?

The sentiment that many skaters “hate” the Olympics is rooted in several concerns and apprehensions about the nature of the Olympic Games and how skateboarding fits into its mold:

  • Loss of authenticity: Skateboarding originates in street culture, with an ethos of rebellion, freedom, and individual expression. The structured and commercial nature of the Olympics might be seen as diluting this authenticity.
  • Commercialization: With its global viewership and significant sponsorship deals, the Olympics is undeniably commercial. Many skaters fear that this commercial aspect might overshadow the grassroots and authentic culture of skateboarding.
  • Standardization: Skateboarding is more about style, creativity, and personal flair than specific tricks. The necessity of having a standardized scoring system in the Olympics could risk sidelining the unique individual expression that is at the heart of skateboarding.
  • Cultural misunderstanding: There’s a sentiment that Olympic decision-makers might not be deeply rooted in skate culture, potentially leading to choices that don’t resonate with the core skateboarding community.
  • Mainstreaming: The Olympics is a mainstream event, and the inclusion of skateboarding might be seen as an attempt to sanitize or make palatable a sport and culture that thrived on being outside the mainstream.
  • Pressure and competitiveness: The push to win medals and achieve national recognition could place undue pressure on skaters, shifting the focus from the love of the sport to a more result-oriented mindset.

It’s worth noting that while many skaters have reservations about the Olympics, not all are against it. Some see it as an opportunity for global recognition, acceptance, and the growth of skateboarding. The debate reflects the diverse opinions within the skateboarding community itself.

What’s my take on the matter?

As much as I loathed the coverage, photography, and commentary discrepancies, I was stoked to see skateboarding make it to the Olympics. As a relatively new skater, I felt elated and somewhat proud to see my newfound passion showcased on such a grand scale.

Skateboarding is, at its heart, about inclusivity, about everyone getting their fair shot at showing their skills. I feel the Olympics could definitely do better in this aspect.

However, I am not a big fan of how they seemed to sideline numerous well-deserving skateboarders and focus primarily on big names. Skateboarding is, at its heart, about inclusivity, about everyone getting their fair shot at showing their skills. I feel the Olympics could definitely do better in this aspect.

I’m excited to see the changes and improvements they might develop for Paris 2024. Until then, let’s keep shredding and remember that whether the Olympics get it right or not, skateboarding for us will always be about the streets, pulling sick tricks, and the delight of landing that elusive switch twist!

If you are a visual learner, check out the video below from YouTube.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As we wrap our heads around the rather tumultuous blending of skateboarding and the Olympics, let’s address some frequently asked questions that might be lingering around.

Why was there a backlash against Naija’s hyped Olympic representation?

The backlash primarily stemmed from the overwhelming focus on Naija, sidelining other equally or more deserving skateboarders. Critics called out NBC for being partial and not providing comprehensive coverage to all skaters, regardless of their fame. If you want to know more about Naija Huston, please check out our piece on him here.

Why did the skateboarding community not embrace the Olympic debut?

For many, the Olympic debut strayed away from skateboarding’s roots, which lie in its rebellious spirit. From uneven coverage of skaters to poor event management like technical glitches in the live streaming, it didn’t resonate with the free-wheeling, all-inclusive skateboarding culture.

Who won the first Olympic skateboarding gold medal?

Japanese teen sensation Yuto Horigome made history by bagging the first-ever Olympic gold in men’s street skateboarding at Tokyo 2020.

Were there any highlights of the Olympic skateboarding event?

Indeed, despite the controversies, there were a few highlights. The debut itself is a significant milestone for skateboarding. Additionally, watching world-renowned skateboarders finally compete on the Olympic stage was an exciting prospect for many.

Final thoughts

Its Olympic debut was a significant milestone in the tumultuous comb of skateboarding’s journey. However, the nuances that made this debut less than ideal shed light on the things we value in skateboarding: a sense of community, respect for all skill levels, and shared strokes in the face of amazing tricks.

And now, it’s your turn to drop in. How did you feel about skateboarding’s Olympic debut? Do you think it was a positive or negative move? Let me know in the comments section below. I read and reply to every comment. If you found this article helpful, share it with your skateboarding mate and browse through our blog for more insider tips and tricks on skateboarding. Thanks for tuning in, and keep the wheels rolling!

Key takeaways

This article kicked through the contentious issue of skateboarding’s debut in the Olympics. Here are some key takeaways:

  • While a significant milestone, the Olympic debut faced backlash for straying away from the essence of skateboarding.
  • Coverage issues, including favoritism and interruptions, left the community feeling short-changed.
  • Commentary inaccuracies and biased attention towards skaters like Naija Huston were marked negatives.
  • Despite the overall dissatisfaction, the event had its highlights, including witnessing famed skateboarders on a global stage.

Helpful resources

Steven Portrate
Written by Steven Sadder, Staff Writer

Hey! I'm Steven, a lifelong skater, and proud New Yorker. I’ve been skating since I was a teenager. I may be a bit older now, but I'm not slowing down. Follow me for skating tips and latest gear reviews.

Nick eggert.
Edited by Nick Eggert, Staff Editor

Nick is our staff editor and co-founder. He has a passion for writing, editing, and website development. His expertise lies in shaping content with precision and managing digital spaces with a keen eye for detail.

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