In which I once was wrong.

Nothing worse that being criticized by someone who is right…

I just received a comment from someone on a post I wrote a few months ago, and it deserves more attention than being buried as a comment in a months-old post (I also like his style: mixing compliment with insult so subtley, that I somehow feel better about being called an idiot). So read the post here, and here is the comment from “D Calen Knauf” in its entirety:

Interesting view you have, not as negative as I had hoped. Naive and selfish negativity towards skateboarding is much more fun to debase. I have several issues with this article and with your proposals to improve the state of skateboarding at pier park. Right off the bat you propose more skateparks. That is like saying “god I hate it when runners wizz by me when I’m walking in the morning, clearly there aren’t enough running tracks and ovals. Let’s build some more!” that is not solving anyone’s problem. The reason people are skateboarding places other than skateparks is because that is what skateboarding is all about. Maybe you grew up in a community of people that really appreciate structure, rules and segregation. There are many other groups of people that don’t find that type of activity engaging or fun and prefer an activity with creative freedom and a sense of personal challenge. Skateboarding started in the street and will always be there, just like walking, running, biking…

As far as damages go, the damage you see now is as far as the damage will go. It’s concrete, not stucco, it gets a little dirty, the edge rounds off and that’s about it. Roads get tire marks on them sidewalks get scuffed and chipped from use, why do you all of a sudden feel that these edges are any different. It’s a patina on the city, like the green oxidization on the Vancouver hotel roof. You mention that the park was so nice with kids laughing and people playing guitar… well personally I don’t have kids and don’t appreciate the sound of their laughter the same way you do. Same goes for the guitar, or basketball, or… the difference between me and you is that I–like you mention– realize that I am living in a society, and realize that what I like doesn’t always align with what other people like, and I realize this and put up with their annoying kids yelling and laughing, their bad guitar playing, and their loud basketballs, and hope that they will give me the same curtsey.

I pay taxes just like you, probably more, and would like to see an end to kids laughing and basket ball and guitar playing at pier park… just kidding, but that’s how ignorant you sound.

Funny, after I wrote that blog post, and parts of it got picked up in the local paper, I had several people who I know and respect ask me why I was so against skateboards? That was not my intention. At first I blamed this on the Newspaper only mentioning my negative comments, and not mentioning the “positive part” where I suggested constructive solutions. It took some friends to point out to me that I really was sounding more like Abe Simpson than I thought. Sucks to get old, and sudden self-awareness definitely doesn’t help.

First, the criticism I got from some friends. One pointed out that I was complaining about youth doing something collective, creative, athletic, and constructive, and I seemed to only see the negative impacts of it (noise, scuff marks, concrete wear). He was absolutely right.

A second friend pointed out that more skateparks or structured facilities were not going to solve my alleged problems here, because I didn’t understand what the skaters were doing. They weren’t looking for a place designed for skating, they were looking to apply their skills in places not specifically designed for that purpose. This is where a lot of the creativity and skills growth related to skating comes from. As a non-skater, I maybe didn’t recognize this (but as someone who dabbled in BMX and mountain bike trials riding, I probably should have – again, blame my advancing age). It sounds like that is what you are getting at with the “running track” allegory.

So, mea culpa: you are right. I kind of missed the point with that one. We live in a society, and we all need to recognize when we don’t understand a situation. Maybe I should have just sat down with those guys at the park and had a conversation. Maybe the commenter above was one of them, and could have provided me a better understanding of the situation from his viewpoint.

Thanks for commenting.

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