Armchair Detractors

Second rant in two days coming…

I’ve spent 7 years on and off campaigning for better skateparks in Cov and Warwickshire. Mostly, it’s a thankless task, and I’m fine with that. I don’t do it for the admiration, or the vanity of having my name attached to it. At this point I just pass on any supporting work I have done to people more qualified and far more better placed to campaign. However, when the various groups campaigning for skateparks do manage to make progress, and create facilities for people to skate, or provide opportunities for someone to skate a park that furthers their cause, I can’t stand those who sit there and bitch about the hard work done by other skateboarders.

Listen, I get it, you might look at a skatepark and say “That isn’t my bag, and I don’t want to skate it”. That’s fine. I feel that way about some parks and street spots. You don’t have to skate it. No one is forcing you to skate it. However, it’s unacceptable to completely neg on other’s efforts and label their work as shit. Even worse when you continue to do so without ever attempting to engage with the process of building better parks locally. 

Again, I’m not demanding you turn up to a meeting so you can “earn” the right to complain. We all deserve good skateparks, but that also means taking any win we can get in order to show the demand. Trips to other skateparks ran by the Coventry Skatepark Project show the demand for better skateparks back home by showing the sheer number of people who would jump at a chance to travel just for skateboarding. They also allow us to gather knowledge of what makes a good skatepark. Vicki Skatepark in Leamington, and Castle Farm in Kenilworth, had their problems during the planning and building phase, but that does not detract from the achievement. In Vicki Park’s case, whilst some simply don’t like how tight and transition heavy the park is, I will defend it simply because you can drop in, pump round at full speed, not do any tricks, and still have a ton of fun. I couldn’t say the same for any other park within an 30 minute drive of my front door. 

The success of Vicki Park alone has opened doors for a park more than twice the size in St Nick’s Park in Warwick (which is literally 15 minute walk from Vicki Park), where any perceived problems with Vicki Park can be rectified, and we can hopefully provide more variety to the local parks. Even with this development, Warwick County Council are still willing to drop some cash on improvements to Vicki Park – paths with benches leading up to the skatepark to provide a small plaza area for street skaters, as well as a proposed a mini park for beginners and younger kids. Regardless of any reservations this should be seen as a massive win for the skateboarding community in the local area and not a reason for negativity.

Even if you don’t turn up to planning meetings and watch a park get built, and it doesn’t exactly match your expectations – then the right reaction is to talk to those who built it, find out how you can get involved and give your feedback constructively. If a group of local council bods plonk a skatepark down with almost no skater feedback, and it still turns out to look like the new park at The Dingle in Nuneaton, then you should consider yourself lucky because;

– It’s spray crete, not a bunch of metal sheeting masquerading as a skatepark

– It actually has a bit of everything in it

– It proves the council are paying attention to modern skateparks and are at least trying to provide something that matches.

With these 3 positive points, the only reaction should be to work WITH councils and think of the possibility of what could be built if skateboarders who actually know their shit are involved with the build. If you think a park is dogshit, the only response is to knuckle down, join your local campaign group and work on getting the next park built to be better and more to your liking than the last. Negging on a park because someone didn’t match your very specific idea of your perfect skatepark is a ridiculous and childish attitude, and unless you are willing to actually re-adjust your comments into something a bit more mature and use them as foundations to improve your local facilities, you should just shut up and go skateboarding.

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