Saturday, August 6, 2011

What Happened to Inline Skating?

Growing up, skating or "rollerblading" was one of the most popular activities among myself and my friends.  We did traditional skating, but we were more involved in "aggressive skating".  I put that in quotes because I never really liked the term. Basically, we did grinding, ramps, and tricks.  This was early on when there were not a lot of skate parks.  We used to have to have to get our parents to drive us a half hour to another town where they had an indoor skate park.

Anyway, we used to skate every day.  This was in the mid 90's.  Inline skating was on the X-Games.  It was very popular.  I didn't realize until recently that apparently inline skating's popularity has gone down big time.  Some estimate showing it is down by 50%.  That is a huge decrease!  As I started thinking, I realized it has been a while since I saw people skating outside.  I have been looking up the topic online and have found that it is no longer in the X-Games since the mid 2000's and even the ASA association which was all about skating seems to be no more.

It's pretty sad.  Inline skating is a great sport for people of all ages.  I still have my skates and while I am not as active as before, I still break them out every now and then and go skating.  I even go on ramps now that they actually have them around.  Where were all the skate parks back in the day when we wanted them?

I know skateboarding is still pretty popular.  Those are the kinds of kids that should be inline skating, or at least try it.  I bet many kids these days are not even exposed to it and have never tried it.  BMX is still in the X-Games like skateboarding, so why wouldn't they keep inline?  I think it is time for it to make a comeback.

Update 8-8-11: I posted the question on Reddit and got some responses and discussion on the topic.  Everyone had a theory, but there was not a clear cut answer.  It looks like it may have been a combination of a few things including:

- The sport being considered uncool or "gay".
- Skates being inconvenient because you are not on shoes.
- Just a fading trend.
- Less tv exposure.

I think if the main skate companies look at these things and try to fix it, the sport can regain popularity.  All you need is a good commercial showing skaters doing cool tricks on ramps and rails, put some current music to it and air it during shows that teenage boys watch.  Sales would increase I'm sure. 


  1. I used to love rollerblading back in the day I have very fond childhood memories grinding rails and ramps when I was like 14-15 years old too. It was very popular in the mid 90s. Then something happened, in a real sudden way... the whole industry sold itself out, I don:t know why or how it happened exactly but it was very heart breaking.I think allot of it was due to the popularity of skateboards coming back. but Honestly I think it was because it was becoming so popular it was a big threat to the skateboard/bmx industry so they had to crush it out, and unfortunately they did! a result of cutthroat capitalism really.... rollerblades started becoming seen as 'gay' or 'uncool' ....when it wasn:t always seen like that ..the perception was manufactured.

  2. When I was 14 - 15 back in 1996 1997 blading was taking off like a storm, I got into it quite well and ended up being pretty darn good, anyway collage came up, as well as job, the car came in and unfortunately I stopped, by this time the Playsation was out at a affordable price as were the early others, N64, Sega Dreamcast etc this saw a lot of my mates who used to blade sit in from of their TV playing computer games getting fat on junk food, even today most if not all of my mates real exercise is finger pushing on a Playstation or xbox controller and talking though headsets, I recently dug out my blades while clearing attic, no longer fit as I'm now 33 (an old git) so actually bought a new pair of USD Carbon 3 Franky Morales 2 boots, kitted them out with ground control feather light 3 frames and undercover wheels, was an expensive task but the result was a good looking and well performing skate, anyway I am now returning to skating to increase my fitness and have fun again, my work has 2 buildings and I regularly have to visit the 2nd one to help out, its 2 miles away, in a car takes about 12 mins due to traffic and then I have to find a space, on the skates its takes less than 10 and all I have to do is take my shoes in a back pack, even the Mrs has joined in skating, she mainly just skates where as I will do crazy grinding and jump off street furniture and stuff, saves sitting in front of TV getting fat and old, but does an half hurt when things don't go to plan, don't remember the pain from my child hood, I have noticed over in the UK that skating is starting to take off again over the last few summers this summer, I have never seen so may kids of all ages at the skate parks, they now outnumber the boarders almost 10 -to 1, think its initial decline may be a generation thing, lets hope it comes back in again, nothing wrong with the sport at all it takes a lot of skill to do stuff and gets the youth of today outside, exercising and keeps them out of trouble - most of the time anyway.

  3. They made an inline skating documentary called Barely Dead which charts the rise and fall of inline skating, seems in x games and such inline skaters were frowned upon for having a ton of events dedicated to them despite being new, that they didn't earn their place and were not established like skate boarding and bmx which had been around for years, the only thing it did earn them was the name Fauxlex. And being looked down upon and sneered at , also I am sure t shirts with money toons on blades and other cutesy things ruined their "Extreme" image, but inline skating still exists underground

  4. BARELY DEAD Rollerblading Documentary (full):

    1. Connected IsolationMarch 25, 2015 at 12:30 PM

      Good find on the documentary! It's nice someone made a video about it! Thanks for sharing it.

  5. i love inline aggressive skating and ppl are saying its dead and stuff like that and i'm going to keep doing it they need to bring it back.

  6. Inline vert and park is on the rebound. Just check out South Florida and Las Vegas.