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Skateboarding is a sport to be respected
Arianne Brown writes about how she learned to appreciate skateboarding as a sport that should be respected. - photo by Arianne Brown
At a recent soccer game for my oldest son, many of my younger kids quickly got bored, as usual, and were in need of some entertainment that didn't include watching kids pass a ball around for an hour.

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my usual bag of goodies. But fortunately, there was a playground nearby that I could take them to while still being able to keep an eye on the game.

As I walked my children to the play area, we passed a skate park that was filled with a bunch of teens and young adults skateboarding and otherwise hanging out.

Not knowing much about skate parks and skateboarding other than the stereotypical notion that it is a pastime made of hoodlums who don't have anything better to do than roll around on a board while wearing baggy clothes and spewing out obscenities I did my best to shield my kids as we walked by.

Despite my efforts, however, my children caught a glimpse of the skate park, which was enough to cause them to be totally enamored by what was going on.

Unlike me, my children were able to look past the choice in wardrobe, cigarettes and occasional swear word and see athletes doing really cool tricks.

How can they flip their boards like that? one child asked.

Look, hes sliding his board down the rail! That's so cool, another one said.

Mom, you interview people. Can you ask them how they do that? my 8-year old son asked.

Soon, I found myself watching with interest, these phenomenal athletes doing things I could only dream of doing. I then noticed a line that had formed at the far corner of the park. Upon further observation, I saw that skateboarders were lining up to have their turn trying to grind their board along the edge of a step. They were trying to see who could go the farthest without falling, with the goal being to make it to the end while remaining on their board.

After a few minutes of watching these skateboarders try trick after trick, I got the courage to walk up to one of them with my kids following right behind.

I complimented the skateboarder, and then asked him about skateboarding. I asked him how long he'd been doing it, then inquired about the people he skates with, and if they were his friends.

I was pleasantly surprised to see him smile as he told me all about taking the bus everyday to this park so that he could hone his craft. He spoke about his friends who also meet there so that they could encourage each other as they tried new tricks.

We stand in line and send positive thoughts and good energy to each other, he said. We like to see each other succeed.

At that moment, I realized that these kids were no different from my son who was playing a soccer game just feet away. Although it wasnt a team sport with coaches and parents yelling and encouraging from the sidelines or an official sanctioned sport, they were practicing so that they could get better at what they loved.

I am so glad that my kids were able to see past what I wasn't able to at first glance. I will never look at skateboarding the same again.
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