How we spend our leisure time varies a great deal. There are a variety of ways to spend time with our friends and family. One of those ways that has grown in popularity among many active youth and young adults is skateboarding.
It seems that skateboarding first appeared on the American scene in the early part of the 1950s when those who were a part of the surfing world in California were looking for something to do when the waves were not up. The popularity began to spread across the country. The first mass manufactured skateboard came at the end of that same decade. In the 1970s areas designed for the use of skateboards, skate parks, began to appear.
The popularity of skateboarding continues to grow as we see young people in our own community on our streets using skateboards. In the last year where I could find statistics, there were almost twelve million active skateboarders in the US and they spent $4.8 billion on their sport in 2009.
Mike Besaw, the owner and manager of the Square Bike shop on Church Street, brought his dream of Covington having a skateboard park to the Covington City Council on Monday, Aug. 1. He suggested starting with a park using metal ramps and tubes. These could be easily taken down and moved if there was a need to do so, he said. Later, if it proved as popular as he thinks it will be, an investment could invest be made for a more permanent concrete park. Mike said he has had more than 500 visitors to his shop sign up as being interested in such a development. He presented this as a dream to be pursued by the city of Covington and Newton County, as well as the recreational authority.
A park would allow a place for skateboarders to practice their sport in a safer environment. Besaw told the city council that the park would help draw visitors to our city. That means more revenue for our merchants and our restaurants while they are visiting.
If you would like to take a field trip and see what a park looks like you will find skate parks nearby in McDonough, Loganville, Grayson or Rutledge. Having a park in our community would be much more convenient for those pursing this sport. Also by making it convenient for those who want to skate to have a facility designed for the sport would be safer, and away from traffic. Lessons for novices to the sport could be offered at a facility designed for skateboarding.
A safe place for skaters to gather would encourage safe habits for those participating. Helmets, knee and elbow pads help to avoid injuries.
On the Wednesday, following Mike’s speaking at the Covington City Council meeting, the International Olympic Committee added Skateboarding to the competitive sports for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. It is a part of the effort to make the 2020 Games the most innovative in history. There were five new sports added. The other four were baseball, softball, karate and surfing. Some of these additions have been a part of the Olympics before, but this will be skate boarding first appearance.
Many of us have not always thought of skateboarding as a sport but seeing it besides baseball and softball shows that the world sees it very much as a competitive sport. It is in fact an action sport that involves both riding and performing trick. It is also a recreational activity, an art form, and for some even a means of transportation.
As a community we have built fields for softball, baseball, football and soccer. We have courts for tennis and basketballs, pools for swimming, and courses for golf. We have trails for runners and walkers. And for bikers we not only have the trails but in some areas special bike lanes. Have you ever thought it makes sense to do the same for skate boarding?
Have you ever thought that it will make our streets safer when there is an area designed for skaters? One of the advantages of Mike’s dream is that it starts modestly and then if the demand grows, a more permanent park might be built.
If this dream is become real it will take the cooperation of the county and city governments as well as the Newton County Recreation Commission. Our community benefits when we come together to find a solution.