Community is what built the sport and the industry into what it is today and as sure as the roasty on my arm, it’s what will let it progress into the future.
In the last few years the local longboarding scene has seen a sharp incline in the number of riders out there and this is awesome! More people means more interest and more money that gets put into organising racing and freeride events and at the end of the day everyone wins, right?
Well, things are not always that simple, my dear Watson…
Most of the companies that sponsor events locally are (you guessed it) local companies; board shops, distributors and manufacturers that are selling their products to only a limited number of people in our country. These guys breathe downhill skateboarding and are out there to help the sport and make it a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Without the support of these companies the scene would be crippled, I dare not say irrevocably, but like a dehydrated desert wanderer, it’ll hobble along until a good Samaritan comes along.
This, as you might imagine, is not ideal.
What I am trying to get at is this: for our scene to grow further and for the groms of today and skaters of the next generation to have the opportunity to excel at an international level, we need to; nay… are obligated to support our local skateboard shops and brands. I’m not saying boycott international brands; just support the local distributors who already go through the effort to bring us the sweet sweet gear we all need. Be wary though, as with every growing industry there will be opportunists that will want to gobble up as much cash as they can before the fog of hype clears. If we don’t keep an eye out the market will become oversaturated, flooded by flashy products that just end up leaving the local guys with wet boots and hungry bellies.
By getting to know the lay of the land and supporting the guys that are in it for the long haul, you can be assured of their sustained assistance and presence within the scene. You as a consumer have the power to change the landscape of the industry. Shall it be awash with the debris of civilizations past or rather a lighthouse on the coast, a bulwark against rough oceans and a beacon for what is to come?
We are fast approaching the event horizon of something awesome in South African downhill skateboarding and for us to reach the pinnacle of our sport and wider acceptability in our society we are going to need local entities that will stand by us to ensure we reach that critical mass. They are out there and they need your support, just as we need theirs. Think about it the next time you buy a new board or even a few squares of griptape.
Do it for the community, do it for downhill skateboarding in SA!