...You get old because you quit skating.
Living fast and having a blast
In 1983, Thrasher Magazine put out Skate Rock! Vol. 1, a compilation cassette tape featuring 21 songs from nine punk bands – the music that best (and most loudly) resonated with skate culture at the time. The one-and-a-half minute skateboarding anthem “Skate Punx” by Riot .303 captures the essence of the compilation, and the prevailing mood of early skate culture.
Over the standard power chords and snare-heavy fast punk beat, vocalist Ron Hadley personifies the freedom, rebellion and primal satisfaction of the young skater punks of the 1980s as he belts the coda:
We’re just kids, having a blast,
Doing things that will always last
We’re just kids, having a blast,
Living our lives really fast
Skating has always promoted a “live-for-the-moment” attitude. After all, skateboarding was spawned from surfing – a sport where you learn the perfect wave doesn’t come along every day, so you better be ready to ride it when you see it. But early skate rock also conveyed another fundamental element: the camaraderie of skate culture.
Skaters are a family, and they accept, support and stand up for each other like family. Since the first Skate Rock! compilation dropped almost 40 years ago, a lot about the sport and the culture has changed. The family has gotten a lot bigger, and the music selection a lot more diverse. But one thing hasn’t changed – those old punks are still skating, and they’re still having a blast.
Riding into the sunset
As skateboarding legend Jay Adams put it in the 2001 documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, “You didn’t quit skateboarding because you got old – you got old because you quit skateboarding.” Adams was a true lifer for the sport. He watched as many of the kids he grew up skating with give up or grow out of the sport. To him they traded in their youth with their boards.
As the first mainstream generation of skaters is well into their fifties, many are still grabbing those boards for that jolt of youth. Unlike traditional sports like basketball and football, which are much more of a “young man’s game,” many action sports like skateboarding and surfing can be pursued well into one’s “golden years.”
Skateboarding can be intense (and dangerous), but it doesn’t have to be. You can learn to do it well into adulthood. Half pipes and bowls can be fun to skate if you’re experienced enough – but the goal can be a lot simpler. As one middle-aged skater told Baltimore Magazine last year, you can “just roll around and try not to get hurt.”
And you don’t need to find other people of the same skill level to compete with – skateboarding can be done on your own time, and at your own pace. It doesn’t matter how old you are when you decide you want to learn.
Rhythm, flow and groove: qualities that never age
Before he was stealing kisses with the Innocent Criminals, Southern California native and Grammy Award-winning musician Ben Harper liked to skateboard as a kid – but he stopped at some point during his early rise to stardom. When he was 38, he was setting up a board for his son and decided to get back on it himself. By age 40, he had mastered the kickflip. Then he started skating more than ever before.
But Harper didn’t stop there. He kept pushing the bar – challenging himself to reach another level. He landed his first ever switch 360 flip at the age of 45. Sure, he was skating vert in his teen years, but he still had to work up to that pinnacle like anyone else. He meticulously advanced from switch kickflips to switch pop shove-its to varial flips and tre flips – a months-long journey.
Finally landing one "felt as good as the best song I’ve ever written or will write," Harper told Transworld Skateboarding. "As good as the coolest guitar lick I’ve ever played or tried to play."
That feeling doesn’t just come from landing the trick, but also from completing the journey. It's a product of the time spent on the process, the reward of months (or years) of hard work. The time isn't an obstacle – it is a key ingredient in the final result.
As Harper attests, "You've got plenty of time!"
Even though Harper focused on more traditional sports in high school, like basketball and track, skateboarding is still his passion today (outside of music, of course). He is a living example of skateboarding's accessibility and staying power as more than just a fun activity for kids – it's a lifelong hobby.
Harper's music even helps to show how far skating has come. The chill vibes of his tunes are a far cry from the aggressive, guttural punk rock that served as the stereotypical skate soundtrack in the sport's early heyday, a testament to the its widespread popularity.
Skating isn't just for punks anymore.
Skateboarding as a family activity
As kids who grew up skateboarding have children, skateboarding is becoming a "family activity." Tony Hawk just turned 53 – his son has already been a pro skater for a decade. But you don't have to be a pro to skate with your kids.
Middle-aged dad and CNET editor Brian Bennett says he skates "to find some sanity under quarantine." He is teaching his son to skate with him to "pass on the torch."
"It's hard for me to imagine a better escape that's attainable in my own neighborhood," Bennett writes. "A quick skate is more than just good exercise. It helps me unplug and recharge, even if it's for just 30 minutes a day."
Skating is a great, family-friendly recreational activity even during a pandemic. It's also more suited to personal bonding than other sports since it's a journey you're taking together. It’s only a competition if you want it to be.
When you skate together, you can evaluate unique risks and challenges at your own pace. There aren't league fees or mandatory practices and games to attend. You choose your adventure as it comes.
Feel like a kid again
Are skateparks the fountain of youth?
The best way to find out is to get on a board! You could be a beginner looking to learn, a once-and-future rider looking to break back into skating, or an avid skate dad trying to teach your kids in a family-friendly setting. In any case, DIVERT has you covered.
Our skateparks are crowd-controlled and feature lines for all skill levels, with guides ready to teach and assist you. If you book a session, you even get a helmet and a board!
At 45, Harper said that skating helped him find a "sense of accomplishment and a soulful fulfillment that goes into every other aspect of my life and perspective."
Skateboarding can be an exciting new adventure and a great outlet. It’s a good source of exercise for people of all ages. Even if you don’t think you can do it, you might be surprised! Come check us out and start your journey.
Just remember – the more you skate, the better you'll get. And if you keep it up, you might never get old.