JE / January 26th, 2015 / Blogs
Hey, kid, wanna go to a meeting?!

Meetings — it’s all anyone wants to talk about today.

Which is funny, because all day every single day this same topic (save blading) is hashed out over and over again by bladers the world over. But then I guess we are talking about that every other day, so whatever. We’re back to square one.

The thing about meetings in rollerblading is… they’re not what you think they are.

It’s always good to get people together to try to work towards a common goal, but have you met any rollerbladers lately? Have you witnessed any form of cooperation just naturally take its course?

No, probably not. We all have the answer. We all know what’s best. We all know why that sucked.

Or at least we’re pretty sure we are.

Not being at the meeting (and proud!) we can only speculate on the exact nature of conversation, but it has likely got to do with the long, hard, look-yourself-in-the-mirror, come to Jesus realization that many folks in that room had because 2014 was not a good year for blading economics. Neither was 2013. Or several years before that.

Faced with the brutal outlook of another WORSE year, something had to be done. Hence these people in a room.

But like Andy Wegener himself said on a FB thread about the meeting, “I don’t have the answer to the main problem of our industry of how to get new kids into the sport,” like, what’s to come from the meeting?

I’ve been to a bunch. About contests, about marketing, about how to handle the eventual knock on the door from the Olympics (it didn’t come), and more. In nearly every instance the only thing that was accomplished was the meeting “leader” presenting their agenda. Maybe they get some support, maybe they don’t. But the decisions have usually already been committed to, mentally at least, so the odds of getting people to “come around” aren’t great. On both sides. The presenter is presetting what they consider the best option. The crowd is either “haters” or “lovers” so objectivity is questionable.

The point is, at the end of the meeting usually the only thing that happens is bitching about the actual practice of having the meeting.

Take the concept of getting kids into skating. That has been a main topic at almost every blade meeting we’ve ever attended. Still not happening. Still the most important thing to consider. (Though Tracy White has a lot of the formula figured out.)

For the companies in that room and others to succeed, and for rollerblading to grow (I guess that was the point of the meeting) we should most of us just keep doing what we’re doing and focus only on making ourselves and other skaters happy.

Pandering to people is for hacks, lames and phonies.

But then, that’s what the public thinks we are — because we’ve pandered for a long time.

In the annals of sporting goods lore, mountain biking and surfing stand out as success stories because these two sports managed to get as huge as they are on their own merits. No one had to trick anyone to try surfing — it just looks cool. Mountain Biking isn’t the same aesthetic perfection as surfing, but it’s a more practical way for many people to ride bikes and it encouraged people to look at bikes differently. That grassroots participation snowballed until these two sports (in different time periods and phases) came to be the SRS BIZNESS they are today.

Where do were fit into those narratives? Can we boast of similar success?

Not really. Not since the brief moments after our inception, when all the world wanted a piece of rollerlbading. But you know what your industry leaders did during that time? They pushed everyone away to preserve the “integrity” of the sport — which when translated with today’s more developed bullshit-sniffing technology sounds like “protect our own small kingdom.”

So please take a moment to savor the irony of our current situation.

At a time when our sport had the money and power to influence, we were worried about petty shit and making sure that the uncool corporations paying for this all to happen knew they were resented. Looking back, that’s a pretty unfortunate misstep.

You might argue now that we have the passion and the know-how to do it better, to do it right. But that’s a tough thing to quantify. And without a lot of money, it’s even harder.

What we suggest for you is the same thing we’ll suggest for ourselves. Blade for you. Make blading stuff that you like. The rest will sort itself out in good time. Or not. But at least you did what you wanted when you had the time.

Discussion / Hey, kid, wanna go to a meeting?!

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  • Rob Zbranek - January 26th, 2015

    I’m no doubt guilty of assuming the worst about this meeting of which I knew nothing about. We fear what we don’t know or what is coming. But, when I Read your piece, I stood back and said, “Damn, he’s right! ” What a fool I’ve become. All of us really. We’ve believed in rollerblading this long. Why not believe that things really can change for us…? Salud Justin!

  • CIRCOLOWHEELS - January 26th, 2015

    Just let Tracey White run things and all will be ok. No one knows how to get new people skating better than Tracey.

  • Alan Hughes - January 26th, 2015

    I think “the industry” should stop talking publicly about the industry. The fast food industry doesn’t advertise their marketing strategies and discussions about why more people aren’t eating fast food. They just show you Kate Upton half naked eating the new triple thick bacon cheddar grease burger and and how it can be yours for only 99ยข

  • AJ - January 26th, 2015

    hopefully this article get s Keaton Newsome to shut the fuck up…

  • Derek C - January 27th, 2015

    I’ll be honest I don’t know shit about our industry, but I do know I’ve been blading since I was 13, I’m 31 now. What got me into blading were the demos held by my local skateshop, and ASA/Niss contests. Maybe it’s not as hard as it seems, if the industry can pool it’s resources together, throw some demos in some well populated cities (easier said than done) it could be a nice boost for getting new blood in this sport we all love so much

  • Carlos Kessell - February 18th, 2015

    The first meeting I went to was at the ASR trade show in San Diego when the skate companies were trying to become universal so kids can buy different parts from different companies and build there own hybrid skates. That is probably the most successful meeting I’ve been to. Now nobody wants to listen to anybody else, all of us think we know why we’re a the bottom, with the exception of a few out there little has been done.

    I ran L.A. All Day contest series with Tracy White and we had so many new kids put their skateboards away for blades. For instance guys like Lee Martin who skateboarded for years before putting on a pair of skates. We created a scene where kids wanted to belong. Tracy was the source of all that.

    Derek your right, that grassroots.

    I would like to see more contest, demos and events at the grassroots level. there are guys out there promoting the sport in front of unsuspected crowds like, Jaren Grob. Thats whats up. We need kids to know that its cool to rollerblade and feel confident enough to ignore the negative stigma, and then their friends will want to do it. Thats how I started.

  • Anony Moose - February 19th, 2015

    ^^ NiSs 94 competitor spotted ^^

  • Tracy White - February 22nd, 2015

    Well said Los!

  • Megan Petersen - January 22nd, 2016

    We don’t have dope ass video series like the Berrics or Thrasher has on YouTube either… just saying… all the Berrics video series and contests and events are outrageously awesome!

  • Shima Left USD - February 6th, 2016

    Need more backflips is what is being requested by kids at skateparks.

    So, we do more backflips and $$$$$$

  • Booter - March 9th, 2017

    Alan has hit the nail on the head… NOONE wants to follow ANYTHING that questions its own legitimacy (or even perceived legitimacy ). Rollerblading needs to start kicking ass and taking names, and learn to keep its private life …private. While it is an important topic, this battle cannot become (or continue to be) what rollerblading is known for. Even the moral of current skaters is dragged down by this ideology, sapping much needed energy through frustration, when the effort could be applied to making things more appealing.

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