The History of Skateboarding


Skateboarding was invented around 1990 when some rollerbladers had the idea of reducing the number of wheels on their skates and connecting them with a board. Tony Hawk, an early pro rollerblader, invented the first skateboard as a joke. Other professional rollerbladers of the era, like Steve Caballero and Christian Hosoi, thought the device was so funny that they made “roller-skate boards of their own.”

Skateboarding caught on very slowly at first as most in-line skaters thought the idea of standing sideways while skating to be dangerous and a little bit embarrassing. But police, insurance companies, and business owners, helped promote skateboarding which they saw as a safer and more appealing alternative to rollerblading and bike-riding. By the mid 90’s skateboarders were beginning to be a presence of their own at the local rollerblade parks, and bikers and aggressive in-line enthusiasts had begun respect to the fledgling sport.

We don’t lie here at Yobeat. This photograph is proof! Jason Gregory.

Although it was invented by rollerbladers, skateboarding is really a mixture of other extreme action sports. For instance: the idea of sliding and grinding on rails and obstacles came from snowboarding. The idea of riding on ramps came from BMX. The idea of putting noses and tails on skateboards came from wake-skating, and snow-skating. The idea of wearing helmets and pads came from football. Just about the only sport that didn’t have any influence on skateboarding was surfing, which was actually invented by skateboarders to give them something to do in the mornings before the skatepark opened.

One of the most interesting aspects of the history of skateboarding has to do with equipment. Early skateboards were nothing more than broken hockey sticks tied with shoe strings to old rollerblades. In time the hockey sticks were replaced with bits of broken snowboard. In 1993 a Canadian teenager named Newt Deel had the idea of making skateboards out of plywood, like skim boards. Hence the 7-ply maple we have today.

Skateboarding has enjoyed enormous popularity in the first part of this century thanks mostly to the support of skateboard oriented corporations like ESPN, Nike, and Huffy. With the advent of urban warfare in the Middle East, the U.S. army is training infantry to skateboard, and experts predict that skateboarding will be the next Olympic sport.

Although skateboarders are typically characterized as nerdy book-smart kids who with no personality and obsessive personal hygiene, this stereo-type is beginning to fade as more and more skateboarders are elected to political office or distinguish themselves by acts of heroic patriotism.

As the 21st century just begins to dawn it is clear that skateboarding and skateboarders are being embraced by main stream America. Models sport skateboards on the runways of Europe, almost every school and church has a skateboard club or varsity team, and free 24-hour community skate parks are a dime a dozen.

-Kevin Peckham