Gone are the days of hoodies and hooligans (or rather, that crowd seems to be moving somewhere else) at the skate park. In their place is the new generation: 12 year olds tearing about on scooters. These kids are tuned into the vast, global network of scooter riders who wear their helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads and give strangers high-fives for doing a good job.
The key factors of playing, chilling, and hard work are all present on the scooter. Indeed, it would appear after even a brief stroll through youtube, the amount of “work” put into this “chill” sport is astounding.
Theories aside, I have included two videos I think highlight the new, revamped, youtube-generation scooter crowd below. Note how the ideas in pt. 1 apply…
Here is Claudius and his mini-sized friend. Not much is known about where Claudius actually came from, aside from popping up on youtube with a bang a year or two ago. He can be easily identified in other youtuber/scooter rider’s videos in the background with is iconic neon-everything gear and apparel and his exotic, titanium, and tennis-grip-gripped scooter (while doing wildly technical tricks while yelling in various languages with a thick German accent, often involving a backflip to signify he completed his run). The odd thing is he is seen in the background of videos from australia , germany, the UK and California…. Regardless, he seems to have a good influence on younger kids with his amusing sensibility (or lack of sensibility in general). He preaches things like knowing one’s limits, “staying hydrated”, using foam pits/resi/gymnastic gyms for safe practice, and always wearing protective gear.
This fellow is based out of NYC, and is one of the “original” (and really only) flatland scooter riders. He has been actively working to keep the “chill factor” a big part of the scooter scene for the new young folks. He generally doesn’t do wildly crazy tricks, instead focusing on cherishing practice, focus, and riding in fun spots with friends. This ethos is very important for sports like this, when one can easily start asking, “why on earth am I putting myself through this difficulty trick?”.
Ideas to keep things in check – according to Jon, Claudius, and myself:
Have relaxed expectations for a session. Going big, whatever that may mean, usually implies pursuing the hormones and their precursors (Epinephrine and dopamine respectively) instead of the primary intent of the sport: to play, chill, and progress.
Understand why it is alright to expect some level of injury. Getting hurt happens, and doing things that look somewhat dangerous and perhaps a little stupid probably are. Yet- safety is easy, almost as easy as getting hurt. With that relationship in mind, we can aim to only ever get “a little hurt”. The level of progression should ideally match the level of safety precautions- for instance, there are some 12 year olds doing backflip 180 tricks (flairs) in concrete skatepark ramps. In most cases, this is actually fine (if they have knee, elbow, and head protection of course!) because they probably threw hundreds of attempts into a foam pit, then a few hundred more to a soft, spongy ramp, then a few hundred more in a smooth wood ramp on which they could slide safely down on their knee pads. That is a vast amount of safety measures to ensure every time they do that trick and subsequently go upside down, with the worst that could happen ending with them on their knee or elbow pads sliding down the ramp. Similarly, an intro ultimate frisbee player should learn to condition and stretch their shoulders (hammer throws), calves (sprints) quads (epic jumps) and do proper warm-ups on their feet and toes to strengthen the worst and most common frisbee injury: the “out-for-6-months-softball-sized-ankle-sprain” or worse ankle injuries. I see most older frisbee players with one or even both ankles wrapped firmly in a brace- not to say this is inevitable, but we should understand this is a huge danger and new players should be extremely careful with their fresh ankles, whatever sport they end up going into the deep end with.
Reflecting on stunt culture – A few references and further content:
Sharpe, Lynda. “So You Think You Know Why Animals Play…” Scientific American Blog Network. Scientific American, 06 Aug. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
Thorpe, Holly. “Sign In: Registered Users.” Action Sports, Social Media, and New Technologies. Te Oranga School of Human Development and Movement Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.
Wood, L., et al. (2014). Dispelling Stereotypes… Skate Parks as a Setting for Pro-Social Behavior among Young People. Current Urban Studies, 2, 62-73. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/cus.2014.21007