Skateboarding has been classified as a type of action sport, although to different people, the typical skateboard has many other uses. Some use this as their primary means of transportation while others find riding the board a fun and exciting activity. Regardless of how they are used, it’s best to look into the history of skateboarding if only to better appreciate the sport.
With the evolution of the skateboard comes the invention of completely new sports and transportation. Trick scooters, shred stix, motorised longboards, and most recently self balancing scooters which are like a segway and a skateboard had a baby, have all made an appearance on the scene and can all be credited to the popularity of skateboarding.
The history of skateboarding can be traced to crate scooters which are regarded as the predecessors of the board. These are wooden boxes placed or nailed on top of wooden boards and serve as crude handlebars. Attached beneath the board is a set of roller skates which act as the wheels of the crate scooters.
Eventually, planks replaced the wooden boards which soon became the model for many of the skateboards seen these days. The availability of these planks were first reported in 1944 in Montmarte, France when French children were seen riding them.
The actual sport of skateboarding evolved sometime between the 40s and the 50s in California. At the time, local surfers found the waves quite flat and decided to look for an alternative form of recreational activity. From this emerging need came the idea for a board to be ridden on land even as it remains unclear as to who actually proposed the idea.
In any case, as the history of skateboarding would have it, skateboards were eventually manufactured in large numbers to accommodate the growing need of so-called land-based surfers. In this regard, it should be interesting to note that skateboarding was initially known as sidewalk surfing.
Additionally, the first surfers who engaged in the sport were known to apply several accepted surfing styles. In conjunction with the sport of surfing, the early skateboarders were said to perform surfing maneuvers on their boards completely barefoot.
By the time the 60s came around, skateboarding exhibitions have become common outdoor events. Many of the sponsors for these events started out as manufacturers of surfing accessories before branching out to skateboarding.
In 1965, skateboarding officially became a sport with the first National Skateboarding Championship taking place in Anaheim, California. The sport was still considered raw at the time though; thus, only two disciplines were introduced, namely, slalom downhill racing and flatland freestyle.
A decade later, the history of skateboarding entered new grounds with the introduction in the market of the polyurethane skateboard wheels. These proved to be effective replacements for the original metal-based wheels as there was a marked improvement both in traction and in the overall performance of the skateboarder.
Developed by Frank Nasworthy, the polyurethane skateboard wheels helped skateboarding achieve national and global popularity. This became the inspiration for many skateboard manufacturers to look at the possibilities of further developing their flagship product.
In the years that followed, several other innovations were introduced to the sport. These include the development of skateparks as well as axles or trucks specially constructed for skateboarding aficionados. These innovations allowed skateboarders more freedom in their movements and inspired them to come up with maneuvers that are more freestyle in nature.
As the century drew to a close and a new one came in, the history of skateboarding proved to be a continuously evolving process. The boards underwent several changes both in shape and in actual construction.
Meanwhile, skateboarding events became more open with a special category even created for participants below 18 years of age. This can be attributed to the sports move from subculture to consumer culture which we have covered in depth in our previous post: The transition from subculture to consumer culture. So skateboarding has come a long way and it appears still has a long way to go, where it will end up? who knows? rocket boards perhaps?