Will Skateboarding's Entry Into Olympics Be Good For The Sport?
The Dew Tour over the weekend in Long Beach held skateboarding's first qualifying event on U.S. soil for the '20 Tokyo Games, and as the sport moves closer to its Olympic debut, an "existential dilemma looms in the background" regarding its future, according to Rick Maese of the WASHINGTON POST. It remains to be seen if skateboarding will "flip the Summer Olympics end over end" or if they will change a sport that has "thrived as a counterculture activity" for many years. The IOC has been "desperate for a younger audience," and in skateboarding they "saw an opportunity to inject something fresh into its summer lineup." While the move is being "embraced by some skaters but cursed by others," most agree the new platform "could bring big changes to the sport." Skater Ryan Sheckler said, "Skateboarding would be just fine if it wasn’t in the Olympics. But now it’s here, and I think it can open the eyes to a whole new generation. People are going to see it’s not something to be frowned upon. It’s not a crime. It’s in the Olympics now. It’s like super official." The question now is whether the sport can "retain its authentic, carefree sensibilities while also gussying itself up for prime-time TV cameras and a mainstream audience." IOC Sport Dir Kit McConnell: "It’s not just about taking skateboarding and making it feel like another Olympic sport. It’s about taking what’s very special about skateboarding and adding that onto the Olympic stage" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/16).
EASING UNCERTAIN FEELINGS: In Vail, John LaConte noted the Dew Tour event included a press conference hosted by Mountain Dew designed to "give everyone listening an education on skateboarding's inclusion" in the Olympic program. Skateboarder DC Oetken said that people at the event were there to "help us gain a better understanding around skateboarding's inaugural Olympic world qualifying process and how it will affect the skateboarding culture." Skaters taking part in a panel discussion were "quick to admit that the Olympics has created some nervousness within the skateboarding community." Red Gerard, who won a Gold Medal in snowboarding at the '18 Pyeongchang Games, "talked about how the same apprehension once affected" his sport. He said, "The Olympics brought so many different countries to snowboarding. I don't know if it's really changed, necessarily. ... I'd say all the contest people are aiming for the Olympics still and are still pretty down with it" (VAIL DAILY, 6/17).
AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: In L.A., Jack Harris noted 10-year-old Sky Brown has her "sights set" on the '20 Games, as skateboarding, "unlike some other events, has no age restriction." Earlier this year, Brown and her family "decided she’d represent Britain instead of Japan, preferring its more relaxed approach." Right now, Sky is a "child prodigy who has an endorsement deal with Nike, close to 400,000 followers on Instagram and more than 6 million views on a YouTube channel she shares with her little brother" (L.A. TIMES, 6/16).