Photos by Nate Smallwood for the Tribune-Review.
WORDS: Stu Gomez
Municipal governments have devised many clever deterrents to skateboarding over the years (see: “knobs,” which are as dumb as they sound), but by far the most diabolical is the COVID-era trend of filling skatespots with sand. What first seemed like an offensive one-off solution last month (San Clemente Parks tryhards took the unprecedented measure at Ralph’s Skate Court last month) has become a trend reaching as far as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which begs the question: Are cities taking the term “granular approach” a little too literally?
The Tribune-Review reported today that Pittsburgh has dumped sand in Polish Hill’s West Penn Park, and if we’re to believe Pittsburgh Department of Public Works director Mike Gable, it’s for our own good. “We don’t take any pride or pleasure in doing this,” Gable said today. “The park is closed and we kept the gate locked, but they cut the lock or the chain or they hopped over the fence. People have to listen to what the directive is and the directive is social distancing.” Oh.
We feel partly responsible for this. “Never stop hopping fences” has been our catchphrase for years, but it was born in a pre-pandemic world; common sense should tell you that you can’t out-skate a virus. If sand-filled skateparks are the result of our defiance, then maybe we got what we deserve. You may be thinking, “Well sure you can say that—you guys work at the most amazing private skatepark in the world!” Yeah, and we will fill it with sand in a heartbeat. Just try us, punks.
We all know skaters are going to rebel no matter what—it’s in our DNA—but maybe this is a time when we should take the high road. Think of it this way: You’re skating in the sand, but then you look down and only see one set of footprints. That was when you picked up your precious, precious board and carried it home… for everybody’s sake.