It seemed somehow fitting and was also one of the best birthday surprises ever that some sociological research I co-wrote about ageing skaters popped up in a Jenkem Magazine article on skate academia on 14 October 2019, just a couple of days before my 48th. There are many topics I care and write about, but skateboarding is quite special. The feeling skateboarding gives skaters is very hard to pin down into words, even for writers who skate. It is at times urgent and the need is certainly regular. And, with every push and moment we are on our board, or in the air about to greet it with our feet, is an anticipation we might be rewarded with an indescribable joy that money, reputation, connections and clout can’t deliver. To know is to know – skating delivers you into a zone, a state of grace, a place of purity, and rhythm that is all consuming, difficult to stop yet also beautifully ephemeral.
We have reached interesting times where people who skate bring all kinds of things to the table. Jenkem Magazine noted in an older 2016 article that the world of boards and books aren’t always separate and don’t need to be. Post Pushing Boarders Conference 1 and 2 it has never been so easy to see and meet skateboarders who are dedicated to changing the world and this includes through research.
It makes sense to me that skateboarders, with their creative, quick-thinking minds, the sharpest eyes for detail (particularly when seeing street spots) and love of history (talk skate parts and see how skaters have a memory as strong as a library-catalogue) become drawn to the world of academia. Most skaters also have street smarts as well as book smarts and therefore also bring a much more grounded and adaptable approach to research and learning, Skateboarders often also draw on remarkable lived experiences as well as their unstoppable determination, wills of steel and a skill for abstract thinking (e.g. all tricks appear impossible at first and imagination, physics and much more unfold).
So if you’ve ever been interested in taking your love of skating over to studying and research have entire faith in yourself – I do.
I believe you have what it takes and then some.
Thank you Alexis Castro for reviewing my co-authored paper with colleagues Professor Andy Bennett, Mikko Piispa and Dr Ben Green and for not being too ‘tired’ reading a sociological study about Tired Skateboards. Also happy face and an embarrassingly big excited shout out to my friends and peers Christopher Giamarino and his co-researcher Chihsin Chui (reviewed by Larry Lanza), Dr Adelina Ong (paper reviewed by CK) Dr Dani Abulhawa (reviewed by Claire Alleaume)) and Dr Sander Holsgens (reviewed by Nic Dobija-Nootens)