BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Skateboarding’s relationship with competitions is a complicated one. When the X-Games first started in 1995, it was met with skepticism from many skaters. One of the unwritten rules is to shy away from commercializing it or marketing it as a team sport.
So how do Bakersfield skaters view the International Olympic Committee’s decision to include it as a new sport along with surfing and rock climbing?
“I think it’s pretty cool, [adding skateboarding to the Olympics] is giving it more recognition,” said Evan, 18, from Bakersfield. “It’s a mixed bag. There’s always negatives and positives to the whole thing.”
Some of the viewpoints stem from skateboarding sharing the same DNA as surfing. As legend has it, skateboarding was born after surfers couldn’t ride waves because of low tides.
“A lot of the culture behind skateboarding is that freedom to be creative and doing all sorts of things. Not just doing tricks and competing and making money. You’re doing it because you love it.”
Others see the Olympics as an opportunity to grow skateboarding’s popularity.
“I personally think it’s a really good thing for the sport,” said Chance Lelouis,18, of Bakersfield. “It makes it like an official sport because it truly is. You have to prep your body for skating. I think it’s great.”
Even some of the sport's icons have differing opinions on skateboarding being added to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
An administrator to Tony Alva’s Facebook page wrote “they need us more than we need them.”
Alva was featured in the 2001 documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys” about the famous Zephyr Competition Team in Santa Monica.
This contrasts with Tony Hawk who has appeared in the studio following the men’s and women’s street competitions held last weekend.
The days of skateboarding being an anti-establishment sport might be waning.
“I think skating as anti-establishment, I think it was just a phase,” said Lelouis. “It’s like a sport like biking… It should be like a family-type of sport. It should introduce all types of people and not be anti-establishment. I think it’s a great thing that it’s getting more accepted.
Maybe the Olympics will be a boon to skateboarding like the X-Games were in the mid ’90s. Time will tell.