Imagine that you’ve just turned 16 and your parents bought you a brand new Mustang. You’re cruising on the street at approximately 25 miles per hour. So maybe you’re not breaking the speed limit, but everyone’s staring. You feel the light breeze through your hair. Then you’re in the air, 12 feet high. Finally, you land on your back and come this (gesture 6 in.) close to cracking your skull. What happened? You were skating.
As Aaron Spohn, a well respected ramp builder for the National Inline Skate Series, Extreme Games, and many pro inline skaters, said, When you tell someone you are an in-line skater, you automatically assume they envision you sporting a tangerine body suit, waist pack and a pair of wraparound neon sunglasses.S1 Or maybe you see me as one of those with $35.00 generic skates, moving my arms more than my legs and rolling down the street at a rate of 1 mile per day. This is not the type of skating I am talking about. I’m talking about aggressive inline skating.
Maybe this aforementioned misconception is due to the many aspects of inline skating, and the amount of people involved. About 12.3 million kids are currently inline skaters.2 There is a 57.2% rise in participation in inline skating from last year, compared to basketball, which dropped 4.9%, and football, which rose only 5.8%.3 This is obviously a growing sport, and it’s one that you’re probably already doing.
I believe I started inline skating in about seventh grade, and I would have to say I had no life before then. But I guess now, I still don’t have a life because all I do has to do with inline skating and its representation as a sport, which is why I am giving this speech. In the summer I skate every day for 4 or more hours. I have been acquainted with the manager of Team Paradise, a nationally recognized mail order store. I have also helped in the production of CDS Detroit products, made locally in Grosse Pointe.
Today I would like to talk to you, using my personal experience along with knowledge gained from magazines and other sources, about the physical, social and mental benefits of inline skating. One of the more popular ideas is that inline skating doesn’t provide physical training. On that note
Physical benefits are found in inline skating. In fact, it has some of the most surprisingly positive benefits any sport can produce, proven by the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute here in Michigan. Inline skating provides cardiovascular fitness, and it is an ideal low-impact strength builder. How is this? Well, in terms of cardiovascular fitness, skating produces a higher heart rate response than does any other normal activity.4 So if you were running instead of skating, your heart wouldn’t beat as much while running as if you were skating.
Also, there are great fitness benefits that skating provides. If you are 140 lbs. and skate at 18 miles per hour, which is not uncommon, you could burn 600 calories in an hour. Impressive? Not to say the least. The study done at the Ford center also shows that skating in a upright position causes the calorie burning to increase by 10 percent.5 In addition, the study shows that the burning of calories increases by a whole 50% when traveling three miles per hour faster than an average pace.6 So by simply skating fast for an hour, you could burn off one fourth of your daily intake.
The idea of low impact training in inline skating is surely a fact. Frank Fedel, who helped in the study at the Ford center, says that sports like running induce impacts of up to six times the body weight on the joints, while inline skating doesn’t have that Pounding.S7 The skating helps build the knee joint because the low impact nature of the sport allows for the building of the muscles around the knee. Also, acceleration of the joints is brought up to seven times faster than during sports like cycling. Even Frank Andreu, a professional cyclist for the Motorola team, uses inline skating for training and maintaining his fitness level.8
Skating provides social benefits you wouldn’t imagine. One of them would be acts of kindness of the people you meet. In Box magazine, Andy Kruse describes one of the common things to happen to skaters. He met a skater, Angie Walton. After having lived in a tent for three months alone, Andy had his bike stolen, so he asked to stay at AngieUs house, and she let him in her backyard. She would have let him in the house, but there were already too many people in the house who she let in without pay.9 Her kindness is not solitary. Aaron Spohn also allows people to stay in his house for free, and he has three halfpipes in his backyard.
Skating is great in that it provides a feeling of social acceptance for those who are not normally accepted, and even those who are. With 1,200 members in City Rollers, a Detroit based skate group, how hard could it be to meet someone skating? For example, after the death of his grandfather, skater Michael Buechner changed completely. Formerly a great student, he ended up considering suicide. Eventually, he ended up getting Pumped, or tortured, by his gang, and had his house robbed. Finally, he started skating, and now he has changed once again for the good. He recently appeared in a nationwide skating magazine and Roces, the Nike of skate companies, sent him a pair of three-hundred dollar skates for free.10 Matt Mantz, who is now fourteen, once was just a normal kid. After skating, he became sponsored and ended up on the Disney channel, in a movie on ABC and on ESPN in the Extreme Games.11 That type of exposure would have to improve your social and mental state. He now gets respect from hundreds of people years older than him, and he meets more girls than most 14 year olds would ever see in a year. Towards the end of the summer, our local skate group was featured in the newspaper and then featured on the six To clock news. Finally, skaters from other towns would start to skate with us. We didn’t even know half the people for more than a day, and we seemed like friends for years. Certainly, being featured in a nationally read magazine, on ESPN, or working with hundreds or even several people you don’t know, like becoming a superstar, would have to improve your social status, and your mental state.
Perhaps one of the most underestimated benefits of inline skating, particularly aggressive skating, is the mental benefits. As I mentioned before, any of the social benefits would also qualify as mental benefits in that they make for better self esteem. Aggressive inline skating also gives confidence, and gives experiences to kids that would otherwise never be lived through. In the situation of Mike Buechner, Aaron Spohn says, [he] has something else he didn’t have in abundance before motivation. He is back in school nowIS12 In an interview with Andy Kruse, a K2 and former Team Rollerblade sponsored skater, he speaks of one of the great benefits of inline skating: [There are] no coaches to tell me to do this and that, or to run around the field when I mess up. My punishment is hitting the pavement, and my reward is self-accomplishment.S13 I also believe in what he says-it is more fun to hit the ground and bruise myself than to go through being yelled at not only by my coach, but also half of my team. In this aspect, skating also helped me. Matty Mantz also has gained confidence through skating, his father says, it’s giving him confidence, focus and helping him to develop as a person.S This despite the fact that he moved, on his own, to California to skate. At last, he’s confident enough to be the 7th top ranked street skater in the world.14
Another mental benefit is the rush of inline skating. The adrenaline produced from skating could probably beat that of fighting, traveling across a flat surface to place an object in a goal, sliding on dirt before someone slugs you with a ball, or even putting a ball inside a hoop. Also, nailing the trick that you’ve tried for, possibly, days, gives a feeling and builds confidence unlike doing a routine act such as running across a field.
In the following skating video you will see, among other skating effects, the most widely publicized rail slide. David Kollasch earned the respect of many through this video clip, which was shown on MTV, ESPN, PASS, and featured in several magazines. Later, you can hear the rush; when a skater lands off a handrail, you’ll hear a scream of excitement. You will also see a crash by Brian Smith towards the end. Although I couldn’t put it in the tape, he tries over 5 times afterwards, in trying to get the railslide right, which eventually builds his confidence. It is best put when he says, essentially, That ticked me off. Now I’m gonna do this rail.S Cetus take a look.
AJ Jackson, who grew up in South Central Los Angeles and became a sponsored Bauer skater, puts it well: it’s the most incredible, beautiful sport of all time. You know, football, baseball, hockey, they’re great, but this is an individual relief.15 Odd to you as it may seem, I had an exhilarating experience this past summer which gave me a great rush. It was when I had been skating from the local park. I was skating among cars, in the driving lane, at about 20 in a 25 speed zone. Then the green light went red. I don’t use a brake, so I ended up going straight through, screaming something I shouldn’t say in school. After I had passed it, I noticed a police car parked at the gas station at the intersection. But I was never caught. If you ask people in my skate group, you’ll hear stories of them hanging on to backs of semis, and most fun for at least them, being chased by police only to get away through roads cars can’t reach. All these activities produce an adrenaline rush that you can’t get anywhere else.
As I mentioned earlier, you can feel a mental rush from skating that can’t be achieved in any other sport, and live through experiences you would otherwise be without. Along with these mental benefits you can also gain confidence in all you do. Socially, you will meet thousands among thousands of people who have similar interests while skating, as we saw skaters are all courteous to others. Of course, you have also seen the proven physical benefits of skating: the cross-training possibilities, the fact that it burns more calories than running, and its benefits to lower and upper body muscles. For these benefits (mental, physical, and social), inline skating is one of the best all around sports.
Skating has changed my life, and I believe it is the best sport ever. I believe it will become the number one sport in participation if not only in America, but also in the world. There are skaters from Kuwait to Africa, Australia to Alaska and in Singapore and England. It is predicted to be the fastest- growing sport between now and 2001. It is on the National Sporting Goods Association list as one of the 20 top participation sports in America, while it overtakes football and softball.16 Baseball, skiing, snowboarding, tennis and soccer aren’t even on the list, nor do they provide as many positive overall effects. Hopefully you have seen what skating can do for you in all three ways.