Skateboarding: Road To Tokyo 2020

 

As the debate goes on and the civil war among skateboarders around the world is getting bigger and bigger, and as we are all waiting for the International Olympic committee to make the final decision, it’s time that we all ask ourselves why few skateboarders don’t want skateboarding into Olympic.

 

Many reports says that skateboarders don’t want skateboarding into Olympic because of WADA Tests. It is well known that most of skateboarders uses drugs as refreshment, for recreational purposes. This is not the only reason, on the other hand there so many reasons with the fear of Corruption top the list.

Some believes that, there is no a real qualified Organization now to be the Governing body for skateboarding and especially in four years to prepare and have skateboarding well and equally organized around the globe for Olympic 2020.

However the Rollersports (FIRS) IS the official governing body for skateboarding. For some this scramble among organizations to be the Governing bodies is much driven by power and money and not the love of skateboarding.

Skateboarding is a diverse activity with many disciplines all should be respected and celebrated as each have their individual art. There is only one GB that seems to be looking out for and including all of skateboarding; Downhill, Slalom, Freestyle, Street, Park, Vert and Bowl.  WSF reached out to all of the disciplines that are organized, many of which have been organized since the 80’s and enlisted their leadership and diversity to join WSF and create a GB with truly global participation and proven experience at operating non profit federations.  ISSA, IDF, IDSA, IFSA etc all joined WSF.   WSF started out in development first not like ISF and FIRS whose sights have only been set on the Olympics and the revenue that comes from the games.  WSF is also developing programs for amateurs, pros, coaches, school programs, leagues and development programs.

 Contrary to some organizations who are claiming ownership of skateboarding a governing body is not just for Olympics games participation and should be actively involved in all of the following:

  • Promotes the sport;
  • Manages the rules and regulations of the sport, including anti-doping;
  • Administers officials of the sport;
  • Establishes and maintains links with the other international governing body\ies / federations
  • Encourages participation;
  • Develops coaches;
  • Develops athletes; and
  • Organizes and hosts competitions.
  • Prepares and implements a vision and strategic plan for the sport.

Both FIRS and ISF has had more than 12 years to implement any of the above programs but to date have not participated in any of these critical issues for skateboarding, instead they both seem to be focused on the revenue from the Olympics and how they can get their hands on it.

Few believe that skateboarding into Olympic will have a similar effect that snowboarding has had. We will get parks built easier, police will back off skaters and a handful of skaters will make more money, not off skating but off endorsements.

“I do not think the Olympics will have much of an effect on everyday skateboarding. I have snowboarded since inception and the only thing the Olympics did was open up mountains to us that we had previously been banned from. Kids will skate, most for fun, a select few to win and I think both paths should be there. The same people against the Olympics were also against the X Games and many were even against skate parks when I started in 1996. I bet that surprises you but at that time the industry was tied to street skating and they thought skate parks would ruin their business but all it has done is grow the industry and create more and more skaters, younger and younger too.”

All there organizations should work together and follow the rules of the IOC. International Skateboarding Federation (ISF) has been involved in skateboarding the longest yet it has done the least for skateboarding around the globe, and on following the IOC model. Its mentioned several times that Mr. Gary of ISF is after making money out skateboarding and nothing more.

On the other hand the newly World Skateboarding Federation (WSF) by Mr. Tim has been a good citizen by creating an annual World Championships and establishing several National Federation of which the ISF has none.  WSF has also been active in community skateboarding around the world with projects in Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Canada to name a few.

ISF has said public that they do not like and do not support the National Federation Model. That shows how out of touch the ISF is when it comes to the Olympic model. The ISF has said that they have all the top Skateboarders. That is a foolish statement. The Skateboarder have no

Loyalty for any organization but rather for their own personal involvement in the sport. The best Skateboarders will go to the Olympic Games regardless of who is in charge just like all the best snowboarders went to the Olympic Games even though the International Ski Federation ( FIS ) was in charge, and still is, 18 years later ( Snowboarding first entered the Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan in 1988. ).

The WSF is by far the most cooperative and open minded to the IOC rules and regulations. While FIRS is recognized by the IOC, they have done very little to involve themselves in Skateboarding.

“The ISF will claim to be the largest and been involved the longest, but they meet virtually no requirements set forth by the IOC. They have no federations, they run no events, they have no management structure, they have no working committees, they have no standard rules, they have no coaches or judges education programs and they have never conducted a General Assembly or international gathering of the Skateboarding family and they have not involved Olympic experts to give them advice”

ISF are looking at ways they can make money from the Olympics. The few meetings the ISF has had over the last few years involves almost exclusively Americans and event companies ( X Games, Dew Tour and Street League – all American based television events with all different rules… ) and everyone that attends is looking at how they can “cash in” if Skateboarding is added to the Olympic Games. The problem with that becomes people that don’t care about the sport or the kids or the sports development but rather how they make money from it. A skateboarding GB should be filled with people who have a love for skateboarding and development not a love of money.

Statistics (estimates) show a significant decline in participation numbers in the USA over the last 6 – 7 years From more than 12 million participants in the mid 2000’s to about 6 million in 2014, while the number of skateboarders around the world seem to be skyrocketing especially in impoverished areas, all the more reason for a GB that is active in global social development

Part of the problem is that there is no developmental program in the USA and because the ISF has no interest in coaches and judges development, kids have to find a way to get involved on their own. That is a problem in the USA and in many countries especially in Africa and Asia is because parents want their children to be supervised and educated and want them to be in a structured / learning environment. Otherwise, they will force their children into more organized and popular sports, (Soccer, basketball, etc…)

On the other hand WSF has been the most active and progressive to help grow the sport. They held a Skate summit in Istanbul and more than 15 countries in attendance… the most countries represented at any Skateboarding meeting. The WSF continues to support and grow its World Championships in South Africa. They are expanding into the Asian area this coming year and have helped start the process of growing and establishing National Federations.

WSF has also applied to become a Signatory of WADA and is willing to do drug testing at its events. Implementing a successful drug testing program must first start with a robust education program

ISF has never run an event and support X Games and Dew Tour and Street League…. All USA based events and all with different rules. Also the ISF has not supported WADA even though they are a signatory…. They have never tested a male medallist in any skateboarding event and last year cancelled their drug testing program at the street league event because they were unwilling to take action on any athlete who may have tested positive for a prohibited substance!!!

FIRS could help if they are realistic in their approach to helping to establish skateboard divisions within their national federation

But Skateboarding has a very long way to go and WSF cannot do it alone. WSF came very recently and they have a long way to go in one way or another although their form is more promising to skateboarding. Kimberley Diamond Cup has prove of what WSF can do!!!

The leadership of skateboarding needs to establish a national federation structure to allow the sport to grow virally.  There needs to be youth leagues and youth events and youth instruction in order for kids to get involved and become interested in the sport.

If the skateboarding hierarchy thinks that once it gets into the Games, it will just immediately be successful, they are wrong. What the Olympics will do will help to legitimize the sport especially in the eyes of the parents of kids who might be interested in it. But then parents will want their children to be cared for. They will want them to get instruction and be supervised and be able to advance their abilities through a structured system.

Also, every Olympic sport has developmental programs within the countries where they have national federations. Skateboarding must follow this same model after being an Olympic sport.

There are always those people who will say that the Olympics will commercialize Skateboarding. It already is highly commercialized. When Snowboarding went into the Games, the Olympics simply made Snowboarding more accessible, more popular and enhanced its image and world-wide recognition and acceptability.

There are some that will say they are against Skateboarding because they feel it will lose its purity or art form.

Those are narrow-minded statements. If the right people are in leadership positions and do what is best for the sport and not think of themselves, the Olympics will create a bonanza for Skateboarding. Some will say that being in the Olympic will kill Skateboarding. If being in the Olympic Games for 2 or 3 days every four years kills Skateboarding, then it will for sure die anyway!!!!

Thanks to all whom helped me writing this article, mentioning few are Heidi Lemmon, Clarke, Mike Jacki. Your comments enlighten me to pull these writings. In writing of these articles officials in all organizations were approached with questions and only few replied to the date of publicaation.

 

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