Skateboarders partially are to blame for the hate which started a long time ago when kids broke into backyards to ride pools. After that, the hate was embedded into society, only the be topped by some major incidents that gave skateboarders an even worse reputation.
The hate for skateboarders started during the great drought of California in the 70s. Kids would break into backyards to skate the empty pools. The damage of property, rebellious attitude, and general stereotypes are the reason people still dislike skateboarders to this day.
Today it’s become a stigma which is hard to get rid of, even almost 50 years after the kids of Dogtown trashed the swimming pools.
- Why Skaters Are Hated
- Skateboarders Are Awesome!
Why Skaters Are Hated
Skaters are often labeled as reckless, vandalizers, or even criminal. In the early 80s, there was a skate subculture that was all about rebel punk going around cities and tearing the place up. It’s not only the rebellious reputation, many worry about lawsuits. What if a skateboarders on your property breaks his skull and sues?
The hate for skateboarders remains, even skateboarding has become more mainstream. Fortunately the public opinion starts to change. The Olympics, for example, caused a slight shift in public opinion, even though some skaters don’t feel skateboarding should be on the Olympics. Let’s go through time and see why y’all are hated.
1. The Great Drought of California
The great drought of California during 1976-1977 was a blessing and a curse for skateboarding. It was the time when the kids of Dogtown broke into backyards to skate the pools. The government prohibited filling swimming pools right at the time when skateboarding became a thing.
Even though skateboarding existed prior, this was the moment in history when skateboarding became real. The great drought somehow inspired creative skaters to drop their surfboards and look for waves in concrete. Even to this day skate park design bowls that look like swimming pools from those days.
2. Mark Anthony “Gator” Rogowski
So this guy was extremely talented and lived the life of a rock star, but something was off. Gator is considered the most hated skateboarder of all time, and he earned it. It’s so bad, I even left him out of my top 10 because we just need to forget about him.
While skateboarding was already in decline, Gator lost it and murdered his girlfriend. The murder was all over the media, further damaging the already questionable reputation of skateboarding and skateboarders alike.
Comparisons to biker gangs on wooden boards, and Gator being the leader, really had a huge negative impact. Skateboarders were already considered outlaws, and Gator’s insane story was perhaps the final nail in the coffin. The story of Gator is really worth a watch and part of my best skateboarding documentaries.
3. The Rise of Street Skating and Property Damage
Around 1990, vert skating wasn’t popular anymore and the remaining skaters moved to the streets. There was a dedicated group that started to shred the streets and street skating became a thing. Skateboarding went underground only to make a comeback ten years later. With the rise of street skating and lack of skate parks, public property was an attractive alternative.
It’s safe to say that street skating didn’t exactly contribute to a positive attitude towards skateboarders. Grinding marble ledges, damaging stairs and rails, or skating any functional object causes damage and. replacing public property costs taxpayers money. A damaged bench or marble ledge isn’t visually appealing, and I have never talked to a person who’s keen on paying taxes.
There are several skaters that contributed to the new direction, but one that comes to mind is Natas Kaupas. The Lithuanian skateboarder Natas got his merchandise banned from several stores back in 1987 because ‘Natas’ spelled backwards is Satan. Another reason to hate skateboarders! I guess Santa wasn’t a thing back them.
4. Skaters Are Rebellious
In a time when the social climate was more conservative, skateboarding and punk music was frowned upon and considered leftist. Skateboarding was counter-cultural activity and lifestyle, with scary punk rock music, and street art that was perhaps ahead of its time.
The general public doesn’t feel comfortable around skaters, often because of ignorance, and sometimes for good reasons. Still, to this day, there are skaters who consider themselves rebellious or outsiders and don’t mind perpetuating the stigma.
Skateboarding is still unconventional, but skateboard culture has some positive influence on society these days. Still, most people are unfamiliar with skateboarding, and with a history of recklessness and a rebellious attitude, it just makes people ill at ease.
5. It’s ‘Against the Law’
For a while, skateboarding was completely banned. Just putting down a skateboard on a sidewalk could get you arrested. This was in a time when skateboard were unsafe, before polyurethane wheels were introduced.
Skate parks were demolished because of lawsuits, which was a huge blow to the community. A dark time, perhaps one of the worst, which almost resulted in the death of skateboarding. Skateboarding is not a crime, nor against the law, but you can’t just skate anywhere or need to follow specific rules.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides a list of guidelines, which, although not laws, are from an authoritative source.
Here are some of the suggestions, some are probably hard to follow:
- Don’t ride a skateboard on the street.
- Don’t take unnecessary risks.
- Only one person per skateboard.
- Don’t hold onto a vehicle while moving (thanks Marty Mclfy!).
- Protective skateboarding gear should be worn at all times. This gear includes helmets, knee and elbow pads, and proper footwear. In Cali, kids under 18 are required to wear a helmet.
6. Skaters Are Mean!
Often people think skaters are mean when they visit skate parks. The reason skaters are perceived as mean by new skaters is that they will call you out when you don’t follow skate park etiquette.
If you don’t follow the unwritten rules, you will get into trouble. Snaking, riding in the wrong direction, dropping in when it’s not your turn, or camping on obstacles, will not make you a very popular skater.
Often new skaters are oblivious to their surroundings, and scooter kids are even worse. Cutting in line or ruining someone’s trick repeatedly won’t make you very popular. Sure, sometimes it’s just bad luck, but if you keep impeding skilled skaters, you are going to be called out.
So from an ignorant point of view, one could consider skaters in parks mean or elitist, but often there is more than meets the eye.
7. Entitled Parents
Closely related to number 6 are entitled parents that leave their kids unattended. Usually parents treat skate parks like playgrounds and let their kids just run around the park. It’s not the kids’ fault, it’s the parents.
Sometimes little kids just stake out on obstacles prohibiting skaters from doing tricks. Often skaters ask the parents to remove their kids because it’s dangerous, only to be met with hostility.
Sometimes parents are so oblivious it becomes outrageous. I recently spoke to an older skateboarder who witnessed a dad drop his kid into a bowl with a couple of buckets of sand. The dad was completely oblivious to the danger, not only for his kid but also for skaters. Imagine dropping in a bowl that is full of sand, yikes!
8. People Feel Unsafe Around Skateboarders
People generally don’t understand skateboarding and when confronted with an approaching skateboarder, they don’t know what to do and freeze or become hostile. Some skaters really lack control and are inconsiderate, though most know what they are doing.
When a skateboarder approaches with all the noise that comes with it, it causes concern. Should I stop walking, move to the left or right, or just keep going? I can imagine being afraid of bodily harm when a reckless skater comes to you at high velocity causes fear and even hate.
On top of that, skateboards make a lot of noise which in return annoys people that live close to popular skate spots. The city is a skaters playground and can understandably cause annoyance.
Some feel that skateboarders look trashy, and associate skaters with criminals, making them even feel more unsafe.
9. Some People Just Love to Hate
No matter what you do, people or going to hate. Some are just bitter, unhappy, or even jealous of the ‘rebellious’ lifestyle of skateboarders. Even though skateboarding is hard to learn, they refuse to see the commitment it takes, failing over and over, the pain, and dedication before becoming decent at skateboarding.
Fortunately, people like the lady in the video below are a minority, but still a large part of society disrespects skateboarders. Some take it to the next level, like this lady in NYC:
Skateboarders Are Awesome!
In my 25 years of skateboarding, I came across many people from all walks of life. My overall experience with skateboarders is very positive. Most skateboarders are respectful, creative, and thoughtful. Sure, you sometimes run into someone who is toxic, even to skaters, but not often.
Skateboards share a unique bond, encourage progress, and cheer when you finally nail that trick after trying 100 times. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are, most skaters recognize the struggle and dedication it takes, which they respect. As long as you follow the unwritten rules and don’t act like a clown, you have nothing to worry about.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.