Aggressive Inline Skating or rollerblading has been an incredibly popular sport back in the late nineties. A survey by National Sporting Good Association reveals over 29.1 million bladers were swirling on the streets in between 1996-98. Which makes me think, does the popularity quotient still holds? Is aggressive inline skating still popular among the bladers?
Today compared to ’90s, aggressive inline skating is much less popular. However, by the end of 2010, the picture started to change. There were major contests and new indie games that reignited the interest of the bladers into aggressive inline skating.
We may assume that aggressive inline skating may make a comeback with numerous adrenaline junkies doing their stunts on the streets. But before we witness a conceptualization of this theory, let us peek through the historical turns the sport has been through.
A Meteoric Rise and Fall
Aggressive inline skating started with a meteoric rise as a favorite sport among the bladers. However, the infatuation seemed to die off after a couple of years. The sport has been extremely popular in the ’90s until Tony Hawk made his historical 900-degree rotation in 1999 on a skateboard. The event created an eventual hype further fueled by the ESPN Xgame’s movement.
Gradually, the number of events fell and the number of skaters reduced by 64% between the years 2000 and 2010. Soon the rollerbladers were out of the picture when Xgames reduced the number of blading events to half. A report by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association in 2015 suggests that only 6 million people participated in the massive annual sports event.
Statistics reveal that most of the people who quit were not core skaters. The downfall, however, continued with a number of contests shutting down. Pro inline skaters were making a few grands each year, and many of them were losing sponsors. Eventually, aggressive inline skating declined substantially.
So, what indeed went wrong with a sport that was once incredibly popular? The downfall was supported by various hypothesis. Some suggest that people lost interest due to a cultural shift in effect by games and videos of the time.
Another reason for the reduction of enthusiasm towards the sport was the lack of media coverage. There was not much support from popular TV shows, live competitions, or classic contests that may intrigue the audience to keep the popularity.
Further, Xgames was trying to promote decidedly non-recreational but more economically approachable sports. However, the transition was not smooth because skateboarding was taken as a distinct youth-oriented activity. It gradually generated interest due to its cost-effectiveness.
When a pair of rollerblades would cost you over $300, you could get a good skateboard in around $100. Similar statistics held for maintenance cost for skateboard and aggressive blades. Further, you were required to invest in blades almost every year for your growing kid. A skateboard, in turn, was a one-time purchase and you can share them among siblings and friends. Also, it was difficult to find professional instructors to learn the intricacies of aggressive inline skating. Very few bladers were interested in teaching the younger generation.
Also, ESPN intended to entice maximum viewers and target the largest addressable market. While XGames was pushing skateboarding as a lead sport, there were arguments and judgemental comments making headlines about people pursuing rollerblading. They were considered as gays, which resulted in a growing animosity between skaters and bladers.
By 2004, rollerblading went out of Xgames. Eventually, skateboarding became the next dominant, extreme sport in terms of pro-athlete salaries and overall market cap.
Growing Temptation Towards Rollerblading
By the end of 2010, the picture started to change. There were major contests and new indie games that reignited the interest of the bladers into aggressive inline skating. Further, the remake of crazy 90s hits showcasing rollerblading reinstated the sport to its former glory.
New skating schools are being set up countrywide where professional teach daily lessons, provide valuable tips, spark interest in new people, and promote the sport. The coming years may witness the restoration of the nostalgia created once by the adventurous sport of aggressive inline skating.
So, shall we assume that aggressive inline skating or the popular rollerblading is back? Google still shows some disturbing trends when you try to search for rollerblading or aggressive inline skating. You may witness some riveting auto-generated search options when you type the name of the sport.
No wonder, these queries reflect the most popular searches conducted for the phrase during the past declining years. While some of them make perfect sense, others indicate troubling misbeliefs. People considered rollerblading as gay, which was assumed to represent joy but miscommunicated homosexuality.
For the usual similarity of sports, many people confused rollerblading to ice skating. The former involves workout of the same muscles as the later. Further, both sports share similar movements and require related skills. Many ice skaters take up aggressive inline skating as an off-ice workout to enhance their skills and maintain muscle memory.
Aggressive inline skating is an intense sport with a steep learning curve. However, once you master the basics and understand the insights, nothing can compare to the excitement and adrenaline rush that the sport provides. Rollerblading still holds the pulse of the passionate, aggressive inline skaters who take up the endeavor for fitness and fun.
Can I take up aggressive inline skating as an exercise in place of a full-time sport? Yes, aggressive inline skating can serve as a great exercise, especially for athletes involved in aggressive sports like ice skating. During the peak of its popularity, aggressive inline skating was named amongst the seven best sports for busting fat and maintaining fitness. It gives your joints and muscles some intense workout that helps breakdown fat deposits. Further, the sport is not only a good workout but so much fun.
Is it difficult to learn aggressive inline skating for an amateur? The sport does require some seriously dedicated hours of persistent practice to master the skills. Once you learn the basics and understand the nitty-gritty, it is all about to keep practicing. In no time, you will find yourself doing the stunts as easily as riding a bicycle.
Is aggressive inline skating getting enough support as a sport for a positive comeback? Indeed! New brands are coming up with better gear to prompt more skaters into aggressive inline skating. Although the market is not growing at a fast pace considering a small worldwide community of aggressive skaters over the past few years.
A complete comeback of the sport will require proper planning and strategic marketing for an intense positive influence. Further, community support is essential to encourage regular open events, organize national or international championships, and gather ample funds for resources and training.
How do local authorities play a role in reinstating the sport? Local authorities are working towards establishing new rinks, setting up skating lanes, building new tracks, and creating skate-friendly pavements. Professional skaters are invited in the rinks, skating schools, and clubs to provide training sessions. Aggressive inline skating events are broadcasted by local authorities to generate general awareness about the sport. Local authorities also conduct regular workshops and competitions to encourage more enthusiasts to take up aggressive inline skating.
How does aggressive inline skating differ from recreational or artistic skating? Aggressive inline skating or rollerblading fits the category of action sports, which involves the execution of tricks and stunts. The skates for aggressive inline skating are specifically modified to accommodate quick grinds and jumping over large gaps. Also, these skates are identified by a prominent gap called H-Block between the 2nd and 3rd wheels. This gap allows for grinds perpendicular to the wheel’s direction.
The sole of the boot called the soleplate is made up of hard plastic, which allows grinds parallel to the wheel’s direction of motion. The surface of the grind creates a lexicon of grind stances, which allows smooth sliding over any surface. The aggressive inline skates have smaller wheels, which allow better freedom and less friction over obstacles. The small wheels effectively accommodate the impact of high jumps. Aggressive inline skaters often perform tricks in skateparks, a space designed especially for such skating-tricks. Although some of them also pursue street skating where they perform tricks on non-allocated obstacles.
What safety measures do I require for aggressive inline skating? In case you plan to pursue aggressive inline skating, your safety gear must include the following:
- Safety helmet – You should purchase a helmet specifically designed for aggressive inline skating. These helmets are lower in the back to provide additional safety to the base of the skull and prevent major injury caused by a backward fall. Properly fasten your helmet straps on your chin and purchase one that fits.
- Skates – Buy a pair of good aggressive inline skates that are comfortable and provide good ankle support. Buckle them up tightly to ensure proper fit.
- Pads for knee and elbow, Wristguards – This safety equipment prevent scapes and serve as a cushion to your bones, thereby preventing major injury during fall.
- Gloves and Mouthguard – Gloves keep your hand and fingers safe while mouthguard protects your teeth and jaw during fall.