I’m pretty sure you know what the coronavirus is by now, unless you’ve been living under…the entire planet or something. Right now there have been 2,645,703 confirmed cases worldwide (with 184,325 deaths) and the numbers keep growing. The pandemic has brought a few positive changes to the world though. Our healthcare systems are being improved, the internet is finally being used in ways that could revolutionize our learning and work, and the government is providing for the homeless more than ever before (hopefully all these good acts stay in effect even after all of this is over). It’s becoming evident that after this whole quarantine phase we’re in, the world as a whole is going to be a different place. But let’s narrow it down to the industry that revolves around a piece of wood and wheels.
Skateboarding is a pretty interactive industry. It’s not as established as other sports so, a lot of the times, it relies on itself for sustainability. Skate shops, especially in South Africa, are small businesses compared to other sports shops. With the lockdown being implemented, it makes it difficult for money to circulate. Firstly, you aren’t allowed to leave your house for anything other than an essential service. Secondly, skate shops are closed, so even if you managed to make your way there, you’d reach an empty shop. Thirdly, deliveries aren’t allowed as well, so ordering online and expecting a delivery sadly isn’t an option.
It’s hard to imagine how the owners and staff of small businesses like that are planning on braving the elements. Would pre-sales even work at a time like this, considering the fact that factories in China, USA and North America that manufacture skateboard decks aren’t operating, with some only getting back on their feet now, not to mention the supply shock issues they’ll have to overcome once economies get up to speed.
One way we can help the skateboarding industry get back on its feet after this pandemic is by supporting local skateshops and brands. Not only is this a good practice in general but it keeps the money in rotation, rather than investing it into other economies. You might think that you spending R650 on a deck from an international shop/brand isn’t much money, but if that’s the mentality of the collective…that’s a lot of money. It is imperative that we, as a community, support local skate shops after this is all over. Supporting local also leaves a smaller carbon footprint, helping us fight environmental issues at the same time.
To slightly deviate from the topic, one thing that’s surprising that really shouldn’t be, is the fact that, for the most part, skaters are obeying the rules the government has set. And that’s not to criminalize skaters, but realistically speaking, “no skateboarding” signs are usually ignored completely. And in most cases the rules against skateboarding are pretty unnecessary anyway. It’s not a gun for crying out loud haha. It’s almost surreal to see every group of society play their part in ensuring that we survive the pandemic.
On top of the financial implications the pandemic has on the skateboarding industry, there’s also the risk of injury. Skateboarding is categorized as an extreme sport for a reason and I’m sure any skateboarder can attest to that. In some cases, injury leads to hospitalization, and that’s probably the last place you want to find yourself right now or any time in the near future. This might cause the sports industry as a whole to recover a lot slower than other industries because right now, medical resources are being directed to COVID-19 patients, not some guy who broke his arm skating a handrail.
Right now, all we have to do is stay home and take the necessary precautions until all of this dies down. Surely South Africa’s economic standing after this will be on its last legs, seeing that it was already in shambles before the pandemic. It just makes you wonder whether the small businesses like skate shops will survive. Will business boom or is everyone just going to go out of business?