What Olympic Skateboarding Could Mean For The Skate Industry

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In 2020, skateboarding will be placed on the world stage at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Even if you’re just a consumer within the skate industry, Olympic skateboarding will likely mean change is coming to the skating that you know and love.

For those who work directly in the industry, this could be one of the most important events skateboarding has seen in years. Not just because Nyjah might get a big check, but because of the huge opportunities that could result from the exposure.

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro had a peak level of 33.6 million TV viewers, with the total number of viewers at 3.6 billion – just under half of Earth’s population.

For comparison, the highest recorded number of Street League Skateboarding viewers was 2.8 million. Studies such as The Olympic Effect conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research have concluded that past Olympic Games have increased trade for hosting nations by as much as 30%.

While the average skateboarder probably isn’t so concerned about national trade levels, the point is that skating will soon be directly involved in an economic growth factor capable of impacting global trade.

Even if a small fraction of the potentally billions of Olympic Skateboarding viewers actually buy some kind of skateboarding-related product, it could mean millions of dollars flowing into skateboarding.

Here are several key areas of potential growth or changes that could result from skateboarding in the 2020 Olympics.

Increasing interest in new regions of the world

While most of the world’s most reported skateboarding comes from the United States and Europe, the 2020 Olympic Games will host participants from an expected 207 nations.

Even if some of these countries are not known for their beautiful skateparks or spots, many of them have strongly developing skate scenes with skaters who may be able to compete on a global scale, but just haven’t received the exposure to do so.

Speaking of these countries not being known for their skateparks, companies like California SkateparksTeam Pain, or Dreamland Skateparks might want to think closely about new international customers.

Due to Olympic Skateboarding, countries that may not have taken skateboarding so seriously may become more open to spending taxpayer money to build public skateparks.

Some of these countries also simply lack the presence of skate shops to supply skaters. This need will either be filled by new, physical skate shop locations or by skaters ordering online.

Either way, increasing demand in new regions can also mean that it now makes sense to build new distribution centers to supply these places with the variety of products that skaters everywhere else have.

Where supply doesn’t meet demand, either for skateparks or products, there is great opportunity.

More involvement & investment by big brands

As if it wasn’t already hard enough for “core” skate brands to stay in business, the legitimacy of Olympic Skateboarding gives brands like Nike, Adidas, Puma, Reebok, and pretty much anybody else a reason to try and cash in on the increased demand for skateboarding products.

More money being spent in the market is good for all skate brands, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easier for brands such as Lakai or eS.

Brands have been trying to use skateboarding’s “coolness factor” for marketing pretty much since the beginning.

However, the 2020 Olypmics already has confirmed sponsorship from corporations like General Electric, Visa, Toyota, and Samsung, all of which are quite a bit out of the realm of skateboarding.

Olympic skateboarding pretty much brings a direct connection between these companies and skating, meaning it could soon be possible to see Felipe Gustavo skating with a Visa credit card sticker on his board.

A spike in sales of complete skateboards

Think back to your very first skateboard. Chances are, it was a complete and it may have even been bought from Wal-Mart.

With so many people about to watch the best skaters in the world compete on the global stage, it’s inevitable that at least a few kids will beg their parents for a skateboard, many of which will reply, “Okay, but you have to pick one that’s $40 or less”.

Unfortunately, the brands that pretty much keep skateboarding alive simply can’t offer their products at these prices without seriously lowering their standard of quality.

Cheap off-brand skateboards for sale at big box store
Piping hot skateboard for $3?

A quick search on Amazon for “complete skateboard under $40” will yield results from companies like Kryptonics and basically unknown brands called “Krown” or “Ice Dragon”.  Sadly, it’s highly likely that this is the first contact that new skaters will have with skateboarding.

A few brands like Darkstar and World Industries have tried to step into the marketplace of “Wal-Mart-level boards”, but it’s dangerous territory because the first time a brand is seen on the shelves of these stores, any “cool” brand image they’ve developed is essentially destroyed.

Still, it’s just not right that this whole sector of the skate industry is run by unknown Chinese manufacturers. Some battles might be best left alone, but it would be nice to see a change here before the masses head to Amazon/big-box stores to buy their first board.

Even more girls

Right now, skateboarding is experiencing an incredible change that has nothing to do with Olympic Skateboaring – female skaters literally creating an entire subculture inside of skateboarding.

Female skaters have already created several companies with all-girl skate teams (see Hoopla Skateboards and Meow Skateboards) but there is still a huge market of skate products that have not been specifically adapted for women.

Nike does currently have a line of women’s skateboarding shoes, but good luck finding this from most other brands, especially a core skate shoe brand. This leaves the quickly growing market of female skaters with limited options when it comes to product catered not only to their sizes, but their style and taste in skating.

Pro skaters being paid like athletes of other sports

Google “Michael Phelps net worth” and you’ll see it’s estimated at about $55 million. Do the same for Nyjah Huston, $6 million.

Both are “star athletes” of their respective sports, but Michael has about 9 times the net worth of Nyjah.

A key difference is that Michael competes in the Olympics, but soon Nyjah will too…

Screenshot of a Michael Phelps Instagram Photo Screenshot of a Nyjah Huston Lamborghini Aventador Instagram Photo

The skate industry is no stranger to sponsorship and endorsement deals, but it’s highly likely that Olympic Skateboarding is about to take things to a whole new level.

This is about the best news you can hear as a sport’s lawyer or agent, few of which currently exist that truly specialize in skateboarding, such as Excel Management. This is a pretty important area to consider if skater’s are truly concerned about “keeping skating in the hands of skaters”.

More and more corporations will soon begin to interact directly with skateboarders (and their bank accounts). These corporations employ experts in negotiation that give even the best agents a difficult deal, but an agent that truly understands skateboarding and it’s value could practically become priceless when the Olympic Skateboarding mega-contracts start flowing in.

Even if you are a firm believer of the idea that skateboarding is not a sport that can be accurately represented by the Olympics, it’s now inevitable involvement will most likely lead to change within the skateboarding industry.

From a business perspective, there is essentially undeniable opportunity on the horizon, but it won’t be without competition – possibly from corporations that skateboarding has no experience with. Only time will tell how things really play out.

Sources:

“Rio 2016: Daily Viewership Figures | Statistic.” Statista, Aug. 2016, www.statista.com/statistics/589506/olympics-daily-viewership/.

Rose, Andrew, and Mark Spiegel. “The Olympic Effect.” National Bureau of Economic Research, Apr. 2009, doi:10.3386/w14854.

“Street League Skateboarding Scores Record Ratings on FOX.” TV By The Numbers, 11 Nov. 2014, tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/network-press-releases/street-league-skateboarding-scores-record-ratings-on-fox/.

Thrasher Magazine. “NHS’ ‘Please Don’t Grab My Boob!” Video.” YouTube, NHS Distribution, 16 Mar. 2018, www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUqX3E7MZcw.

WOODWARDCAMP. “Skate Street Highlights – Hot Wheels Junior Open at Woodward West.” YouTube, 2 Nov. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QHtQu5ThFs.

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