NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – We are one year out from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo and for the first time ever, skateboarding will be showcased on the big stage.
For many skaters in western Massachusetts, skateboarding came at a young age.
“I started when I was 13,” Taylor Wiles said. “My childhood was kind of rough, so I used it kind of as an escape to go and express myself and it all started from there.”
But it also came with the stigma of being a nuisance.
“I feel like I’ve had more interactions with the police than maybe somebody who doesn’t skateboard,” longtime skater and Theory Skate Shop employee Paul Collins said.
Could the olympics help change that?
“If it’s coming into the light more I feel like over time it’s becoming more respected,” Wiles said. He’s even planning on making the trip to Tokyo with his friends for skateboarding’s debut in the games.
Collins agrees that the olympics could help catapult the sport into a more positive light, but he also acknowledged that some skaters are weary about it.
“I think skateboarding has always been a bastion for people who are not really into organized sports and maybe traditional lifestyles, so I think a lot of people are reluctant to see it go in the Olympics because it could change the very nature of it.”
There will be both park and street skateboard competitions for men and women at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Skateboarding is not the only sport debuting at the 2020 games. Athletes from around the world will also compete in baseball, softball, surfing, and sports climbing.