Of all the most loved and celebrated sports around the world especially in the United States, skateboarding is the one that has quickly evolved to become a darling of many.
From daredevils posting heart-stopping stunts on YouTube to fun-loving teenagers cruising through the streets, the sport has come a long way from its initial stages.
But where did it all begin? Who invented one of the most loved equipment in sports history? Join us as we take you on a fascinating journey as we highlight how skateboarding has become an unstoppable multibillion-dollar industry.
How Did Skateboarding Begin?
History shows that the sport has its origins in the late 1940s to early 1950s by surfers who were looking for something to do while out of the water or when the waves were too wild to surf. Actually, someone who has experience surfing will learn how to skateboard in a matter of seconds since the two sports share a similar technique. The first skateboard is said to have been made in California but Hawaii is also seen as a pioneer of this incredible sport. During this period, craftsmen used short surfboards with wheels from roller skates to make a skateboard.
Skateboarding in the 1960’s
At the start of this decade, the popularity of skateboarding had risen and manufacturers began pumping money into developing skateboards. Around this period is when Roller Derby debuted its maiden official skateboard which had some technical improvements that helped skateboarders try out new tricks and maneuvers.
During this decade, the East and West Coasts became obsessed with this sport causing a skateboard to stop being a toy and cementing its place as a sort after sports equipment. In 1963, California hosted the first-ever skating contest.
Improvements Made in 1970’s
Towards the end of the 60s, the popularity of skateboarding was on the decline due to a high number of accidents whose major cause was the board’s clay wheels.
However, in the early 1970s, polyurethane wheels were invented by Frank Newsworthy which was a major turnaround for the sport. It’s in this decade specifically 1975 that birth the ‘Z-Boys’ that included Tony Alva and Jay Adams who influenced various styles that skateboarders continue to apply to date. It’s also during this period that the skateboarding bug hit Munich, Germany thanks to American soldiers who introduced the trend.
Now that skateboards had smoother wheels, the focus of the sport shifted to the different types of ramps available for practice. Alan Glenfand led the creation of no-hands aerial ramps popularly known as Ollie.
Skateboarding magazines also became a thing during this decade where the Thrasher Magazine and Transworld Skateboarding Magazine were first published in 1981 and 1983 respectively. The first skate videos were also recorded during this period on VHS and the trend of recording stunts continues to this day.
The 90s saw the increase in popularity of street skateboarding where mega-events such as the X Games became a must-attend to anyone who wanted to be seen as ‘cool’. Sports media giant, ESPN, televised its first-ever skateboarding event in 1995. The size of skateboard wheels became much smaller and lighter which helped carry out even more complicated tricks and maneuvers.
Lovers of punk music also embraced skateboarding and the two cultures have since become intertwined. Some of the most historic skateboarding tricks such as the two and a half mid-air revolution were recorded over this period.
Skateboarding in the New Millennium
As the world became smaller due to advanced technology, the internet made it easier for skateboarders to showcase all manner of tricks and stunts. Anyone who loves the sport can now easily share skating tips on social media which has made the sport even more popular.
You can now find skate parks as a part of various cities’ landscapes allowing people from all walks of life to come enjoy the sport. Skateboarding pros rake in handsome amounts of money by showcasing their skateboarding tricks to the world.
Kids out there now know that they can grow up to be the next Tony Hawk or Rodney Mullen who are some of the world’s most famous skateboarders.
Over the last half-century, skateboarding has risen from being just a toy for fun loving surfers to become one of the world’s favorite extreme sport. Tricks and maneuvers have become more advanced while skateboarding has cemented itself as a lucrative extreme sport.
We can only wait and see the future of skateboarding as we approach a new decade but one thing remains true- there’s never been a better time to learn how to skateboard!