Skaters in Japan hope that they’ll be able to skate in public without fear of stigma. 

You might not be surprised to learn that in Japan, skateboarding is generally frowned upon. As a sport that uses public spaces in ways that seem inappropriate, is generally quite noisy, and can cause damage to public property, it’s pretty much everything that community-minded Japanese people tend to disapprove of.

But now that Japanese skaters have secured historic wins in Olympic Street Skateboarding, that might change. At least, Japanese pro skater Ryo Seijiri hopes that 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya’s and 22-year-old Yuto Horigome’s gold medal wins in the women’s and men’s finals will encourage people to look at the sport in a new light.

“I’m sure skateboarding has a had a bad image up until now, because we do it out in public and people think of it as an inconvenience,” he said, “but I think that will change now. This moment was the moment they changed their minds.”

Nishiya and Horigome weren’t the only Japanese athletes to compete or earn a medal in Street Skateboarding either. 16-year-old Funa Nakayama and 19-year-old Aori Nishimura also competed in the women’s competition, and Nakayama took home the bronze medal. Seijiri said that their wins were extremely touching.

“I was so moved. We really can win. We were able to show off how talented Japanese skaters are, that we’re strong mentally, too. These teenagers have been hurt, have spent countless hours after school practicing their skateboarding instead of hanging out and relaxing like other kids. That’s the the life they’ve led, and now that they’ve taken home medals, I bet their lives are going to change. It was a great moment.”

But while Seijiri has high hopes that people will begin to be more accepting of the sport, ordinary Japanese citizens are skeptical that the recent wins would have any affect on how people see it.

“I’m sorry but I still see it the same way: skateboarding is trash. The people who do it on the streets are different from the people who do it in competitions.”
“My perception of it hasn’t changed at all. It’d be different if they did it like in the mountains or something where they aren’t bothering anyone.”

“Earning a medal doesn’t change how annoying they are lol. They still need to stop taking over sidewalks and parks.”
“They destroy the railings of stairwells in the streets, causing a real problem for the property owners.”
“The only change I expect is that more idiots will be tearing up railings in parks and public places.”
“Unless [someone] builds places where people can practice, skateboarders will still be using public places like stations to practice.”

In fact, there are many skate parks throughout Japan, but they are much rarer outside of the big the cities and they typically charge an entrance fee, so they may not be accessible for everyone in the country who wants to practice the sport. It’s understandable that people would find skateboarders to be an inconvenience, but wouldn’t it be nice if they could practice without feeling any stigma? With Japanese competitors waiting to take home medals in the Park Skateboarding event too, hopefully they’ll help reduce the negative perceptions of the sport even more.

Source: Daily via My Game News Flash
Top image: Pakutaso
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