This week skateboard wheel magnates, action sport coaches and boardshort flame embroidiers linked hands to rejoice and toast a magnum of OE Ice 800 to Zeus, Hera and various lesser Greek deities who first copyrighted the Olympic Games and then agreed to various franchise rights that thereby bound mortals in commerce and athletic competition across the centuries. Just as an ashen altar hosted numerous animals sacrificed in the name of the dashing god of thunder and all skies, so too does skateboarding now ready its own fatted goats and oxen to sate a decades-long lust for Olympic golden doubloons, alongside hard- and softgoods vendors who have selflessly given of themselves for over a decade. These worthies reluctantly but heroically steered skateboarding into the blingy embrace of roller-hockey regulators and the International Olympic Consortium, a group of straight-up bros focused on creating the greatest sports entertainment knowed among the known universe.
Time was, a flabby oxen and a lunar cycle’s worth of fervent prayers to Poseidon, Hades or any number of other supernatural figures could get your javelin onto the podium, if you catch the drift. Nowadays, bovine growth hormone and illicit blood transfusions have angered the gods and transformed Mount Olympus into a $12 billion cesspool ruled by suspect windsurfers. Now, for the first time, skateboarders will prostrate themselves before these mighty gods and their painful thunderbolts with an official nod for the 2020 competitions in Japan, promising less actual prize money than at Tampa Pro but carrying a strict rules regimen functioning as a sort of ‘Infinite Jest’-length footnote to the 10 Commandments, except in Greek and prayed over by an international battery of lawyers.
But now is not the time to try and apply valuations to a cultural transaction in which participating skateboarders will be held to globally regulated anti-drug lifestyles, dress themselves in national sponsors’ chosen ensembles and ensure that all their relevant Instagram posts carry appropriate hashtags so as to comport with requirements of advertisers and broadcasters that have plunked down for the rights to control all Mt. Olympus-related communications:
The International Olympic Committee may not be able to stop doping, but it will be damned if it will let athletes or the companies sponsoring them tweet terms such as “2016,” “Rio,” “Medal,” “Games,” “Summer” or “Games” if the mention doesn’t benefit an official Olympics business partner.
If the context of “Rio de Janeiro,” “Effort,” “Performance” “Challenge” or “Victory” mentions on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram tie unauthorized “Sponsors” and “Olympians” they support to the “Olympics,” the IOC will intercede.
In return for all this, there are limited efforts and vague aspirations for skateboarding not be portrayed foolishly or in a wack fashion before a worldwide audience sought by advertisers, organizations erected to throw sporting events, and companies peddling skateboard-related goods, but few others. Vert vet Neal Hendrix, who has bushwhacked through a certain amount of bureaucratic underbrush on this long, strange Olympic expedition, offers a demo of sorts in Kevin Wilkins’ recent interview, gently replacing his ‘fucks’ with basic cable-friendly ‘Fs’ and ‘freakins.’ Gary Ream, whose background in gymnastics and BMX hospitality helped create the Woodward Skateboarding Camp chain, says not to sweat stuff like uniforms and other stuff because it’s like four years away. As for Tony Hawk’s famed observation that the Olympics needs skateboarding more than the other way around?
“Come on—skateboarding is all about commercial. It’s all about sponsorship. Look how many skateboard companies… It’s cool. It’s free enterprise. It’s OK. If somebody makes out a little bit more than skateboarding does, so be it.”
Now, with committees of icon advisors, international event coordinators and women toiling under the observation of the Roller Sports Federation to shape a 2020 Olympic skateboard event, the time is upon us to turn away from the bawdy and blaring spectacle of Rio, weaponized Zika mosquitoes and toxic sludge. Now is the hour for anthem humming and reflecting upon the values, truths and yes, occasional heathen sacrifices, that brought skateboarding to this hallowed juncture. Via the KOTR Thrasher:
How did you learn to hypnotize chickens?
Jason Jessee: It’s a talent you’re born with but you may not realize it until your best friend’s dad tells you how to do it. My homie Manuel Hernandez’s dad is a Watsonville legend, so I learned it from him. You just have to be really sure of yourself and hopefully you have a girlfriend and everything’s cool with that. Hopefully you have the relationship side handled. You go in there with a solid relationship and you attack them. You don’t even really touch them. You don’t squeeze them or anything. You’re just really gentle with them but you’re not gentle mentally.
Are they like pit bulls in that they can sense fear?
Yeah. They’ll wait until you’re off guard and they’ll attack you from behind — attack your balls and cheeks. They’re just hungry. They can’t help it! They’re just hungry all the time. So you’ve gotta be gentle with them but mentally fierce. You don’t want your mind to wander. You don’t want to be thinking about other problems.
So what about the part where you swirl your finger in their eyes and make them play dead?
That’s a magician’s secret. That’s only known to the brothers of the Magic Castle. I can’t really talk about it. You want to swirl your finger in their eyes. You don’t really want to talk about it, though.
Okay. Sorry. And then after he was hypnotized, putting him on the back of the stuffed dead rooster, that was just to shame him, right?
Exactly. Let him know he’s the lowest man in the barnyard.