Skateboarding is not a crime.
However, the property damage that sometimes accompanies it is.
"No skateboarding" signs are common at shopping centers and businesses with large parking lots -- places skaters tend to frequent because the open stretches of level asphalt make an ideal practicing ground.
But grinding out tricks along concrete ledges and jumping off obstacles tends to leave marks, which have to be repaired or repainted, hence the signs. Additionally parking lots, despite the flat grade, aren't the safest places for children, often pre-teens, to tool around. Cars and trucks, which outweigh them by a couple of thousand pounds, are constantly turning in and out, and drivers may not see a skater whizzing across in front of or behind them until it's too late.
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Skating on busy streets is even more dangerous.
Which is why we're glad to hear about Jody Isenhour's efforts to build a skatepark in Clover. He's trying to raise enough money to build a 9,000-square-foot indoor park because he remembers what it was like trying to find a place to skate growing up, and he wants his son to be able to skate safely.
The park won't be cheap, but we think it is a worthy cause the whole community can support.
If there is a well-run, quality park where skaters can go to perfect their skills and enjoy their chosen sport, there will be fewer of them resorting to dangerous parking lots, busy roads or private property. That will translate to less headaches for property owners and fewer encounters between police and skaters.
And, if the park is successful and well designed, it could easily attract skaters from surrounding areas, bringing more people into town to eat in local restaurants and purchase goods from local shops. Skaters tend to spend hours at a time learning and practicing new tricks, and a significant number of them are too young to drive. Their parents will likely need something to do while their children are busy at the park.
Skateboarding has been around since the 1970s, and in the last decade has seen a surge in new enthusiasts, partly thanks to extremely popular video games like the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. It is a legitimate sport that requires hundreds if not thousands of hours to perfect. It takes patience, skill, self-reliance and dedication, the same positive qualities of many "traditional" sports like baseball, football and basketball.
Many kids still play team sports, some of which also skateboard, but there are a substantial number of children and teens who have no interest in team sports. Skating is what makes them happy, and like the baseball, football and basketball players, they deserve a safe place to practice and play.
It only seems fair, with so many kids taking part in the sport, that grown-ups in communities all over the country realize that, like other sports, skating can be a positive thing. With childhood obesity rates nearing epidemic proportions, it is important to support activities that keep kids active, engaged, and out of trouble.
Communities like York and Clover have supported children's team athletics for generations, and should continue to do so. But we hope the residents of our communities will be able to move past stereotypical views of skaters as "hooligans up to no good," and support efforts to provide a safe place for them to enjoy their chosen pastime.
The editorial opinion of the Enquirer-Herald
is reached by a consensus of a board consisting of Community Publications Director Patricia Larson and Editor Jonathan Allen.