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The Death of Skate – Is Skateboarding Declining?

Is skateboarding declining? Love Extreme Sports looks at interest across the globe.

Levels of interest in skateboarding have declined, both globally and within its five national strongholds. This is according to a recent report on the relative popularity of skateboarding as a Google search term. In the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom search activity relating to skateboarding has decreased dramatically, virtually year-on-year since 2004. The decline was steepest in the U.K. and Canada, where interest in January 2013 was less than one tenth of what it was in January 2004. In the USA, January 2013 saw search interest in skateboarding that was approximately one seventh of January 2004’s, whilst the sport’s popularity has decreased by 87% in Australia since the same date.

Is Skateboarding Declining?

Most people accept that skateboarding reached peak interest about ten years ago. A media-fuelled boom in popularity led to skateboarding breaking through into the mainstream of popular culture, where previously it had been borderline-underground. As with most media booms, levels of interest were difficult to sustain. Eventually, the spotlight of publicity shifted onto new subject matters and as a result, interest in skateboarding declined. It is really important to distinguish between skateboarding as an activity and skateboarding as an industry, before making any judgement on whether skateboarding is in terminal decline. The boom in media interest experienced ten years ago is likely to have increased the levels of participation. This is manifest across the western world at local skate parks. Whilst general interest has declined, core interest has almost certainly increased. The fact that in the United States, interest remains at around 15% of 2004 levels is actually quite impressive, when you consider how large the media boom was ten years ago. This means that general interest remains very high, despite the decline.

What is the impact of declining interest?

Skateboarding broke through into the public consciousness with a spectacular boom in the early 2000’s and it has been riding this dwindling wave ever since. Now that skateboarding has established itself as a mainstream activity, it is not going to disappear anytime soon, but its heyday of exposure is ending. This is likely to have some serious ramifications for the skateboarding industry, the most significant of which will be a reduction of in-flowing cash. In particular, skate-related clothing brands will suffer from a drop in general demand for their products. This in turn is likely to diminish the ability of such brands to sponsor new skaters. At the top end of the skateboarding industry, a reduction in popularity will drive down the value of brand sponsorship for major events.

What is the Future of Skateboarding?

So long as skateboarding remains viable as an industry within the United States, it will remain viable as an industry in other countries as well. The United States is not just the birthplace of skateboarding, it is also its driving force in the world. The American skateboarding industry is built on genuine interest and whilst this might have declined, it remains significant. Emerging markets in Asia, Africa and South America are likely to prove fertile grounds for future skate booms. In major nations, such as Russia, India and Brazil interest in skateboarding is far more stable and not yet showing signs of meaningful decline.


Photo: Seth Lemmons {{cc-by-2.0}} Words: Al Cuin

Tags: is skateboarding dead?, is skateboarding declining?, Skateboarding

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