Skateboarding is the act of riding and performing tricks using a skateboard. A person who skateboards is most often referred to a skateboarder, skater or skate rat.
Skateboarding can be a recreational activity, an artform, a job, or a method of transportation. Skateboarding has been shaped and influenced by many skateboarders throughout the years. A 2002 report by American Sports Data found that there were 18.5 million skateboarders in the world. 85 percent of skateboarders polled who had used a board in the last year were under the age of 18, and 74 percent were male.
Skateboarding is relatively modern. A key skateboarding maneuver, the ollie, was developed in the late 1970s by Alan Ollie Gelfand as a half-pipe maneuver. Freestyle skateboarder Rodney Mullen was the first to take it to flat ground and later invented the kickflip and its variations.
Skateboarding was, at first, tied to the culture of surfing. As skateboarding spread across the United States to places unfamiliar with surfing or surfing culture, it developed an image of its own. For example, the classic film short Video Days (1991) portrayed skateboarders as reckless rebels.
The image of the skateboarder as a rebellious, non-conforming youth has faded in recent years. Certain cities still oppose the building skateparks in their neighbourhoods, for fear of increased crime and drugs in the area. The rift between the old image of skateboarding and a newer one is quite visible: magazines such as Thrasher portray skateboarding as dirty, rebellious, and still firmly tied to punk, while other publications, Transworld Skateboarding as an example, paint a more diverse, and controlled picture of skateboarding. Furthermore, as more professional skaters use hip hop, reggae, or hard rock music accompaniment in their videos, many urban youths, hip-hop fans, reggae fans, and hard rock fans are also drawn to skateboarding, further diluting the sport’s punk image.
Films such as Grind and Lords Of Dogtown, have helped improve the reputation of skateboarding youth, depicting individuals of this subculture as having a positive outlook on life, prone to poking harmless fun at each other, and engaging in healthy sportsman’s competition. According to the film, lack of respect, egotism and hostility towards fellow skateboarders is generally frowned upon, albeit each of the characters (and as such, proxies of the “stereotypical” skateboarder) have a firm disrespect for authority and for rules in general. Group spirit is supposed to heavily influence the members of this community. In presentations of this sort, showcasing of criminal tendencies is absent, and no attempt is made to tie extreme sports to any kind of illegal activity.
Gleaming the Cube, a 1989 movie starring Christian Slater as a skateboarding teen investigating the death of his adopted Vietnamese brother was somewhat of an iconic landmark to the skateboarding genre of the era. Many well-known skaters had cameos in the film, including Tony Hawk.