When I was a kid growing up in Alabama my friends and I always dreamed about how rad it would be to have a skatepark in or town. We had the fantasy of a sick park with rails, ledges, bowls, and quarterpipes all over it. We would skate that thing to death and finally be freed from the boring spots of our local scene. We knew this was a pipe dream (no pun intended) because outside of California there really werent any great concrete parks. From time to time there would be a private park that would pop up in the ATL but that was about it. Fast Forward to 2010 and it seems there is now a skatepark in every little town in America (including my hometown) and suddenly its become a case of careful what you ask for.
Now before I get into a post listing whats wrong about the current skatepark explosion let me first say there are many benefits to the skatepark boom. First and foremost it provides an easy go to spot where you know youll be able to skate everyday and therefore helps keep current skaters on their boards and makes it easy for new skaters to get started. That may seem rather basic but in reality its something thats not always present for many skaters in smaller towns like my hometown so a go to spot is a huge thing. Second they are a great place to meet new people and forge friendships based on the love of skateboarding because skatings always more fun with friends. Third skateparks enable non locals to make some contacts and get information about potential local spots, shops, etc. Also skateparks are making the current crop of up and coming kids good at transition, no I mean REALLY good, no actually REALLY REALLY good at transition creating more well rounded skaters and thats always a great thing. Finally parks are great for older skaters like me who just want to go out and get some riding in without all the normal bullshit associated with street sessions like rent-a-cops, being there at certain times of day, and everything else that goes with that.
Ok so weve established that there are some great things about skateparks so now lets discuss the big negative associated with the proliferation of parks. It all comes down to this, as a skater never let “them” fence you in. They are building skateparks and at the same time passing laws forbidding skating in the streets. Skateparks are fun but skating is about being out in the streets, finding spots, and adapting the environment to purposes other than those they were intended . Thats the heart of skating and skateparks detract from that because they give you a prebuilt spot with prebuilt obstacles intended for a specific use. Lately Ive been noticing an alarming trend at the skateparks around town. Ive noticed kids WALKING to the skateparks carrying their boards under their arms. A sure sign that skateparks are having some sort of perverse anti-skateboarding effect on the younger generation. To be honest it bummed me out a bit to see what to me was the heart and soul of skating being lost on the younger generation. However my faith was renewed a few days ago when I was at a park down the road and saw this…..
This is a ledge from Lone Peak Skatepark in Salt Lake. Whats funny about this particular ledge is that with the exception of this 20 feet the entire ledge surrounding the park is metal edged for grinding. I guess that wasnt good enough for someone because they took some wax to the one area that was specifically made to be unskatable (notice the notches) at the skatepark. I guess that desire to push the boundaries and skate the “unskatable” is just innate and cant be stymied even by the lure and conformity of the skatepark, and thats a good thing.