Why Does Everyone Hate Scooter Kids?
Whether you are a Skateboarder, BMXer or InLiner, you will have no doubt experienced the bane of all skate parks that is the Scooter Kid, I believe there is even a snowboarding equivalent that has been hitting the slopes now. Before I get started though, I would like to say that there are some kids out there that clearly have some talent for riding these things and are clever enough to be able to work out how a skatepark works, but I’ll get to that shortly. I’d also like to add that this is not a hate campaign against Scooter Kids, but more about making an observation and exploring the reasons for why this has happened.
Scootering, or as I’ve been informed, Scooting, is a wheeled sport which seems to be on the ever incline of popularity with young kids. To the everyday pedestrian they are probably held in the same regard as Skate, BMX and possibly even InLine. I say this because to anyone not “in the know” they would probably see all these wheeled enthusiasts hanging around the same places, especially skateparks and probably at the same street spots as each other too. I would imagine that the average pedestrian would assume we’re all best buddies, hanging out together, lurking the same set of stairs and street spots. To be fair, you could even say that you could find some similarities with what you actually can do on a scooter, we all take the same lines and approach obstacles to do grinds, airs and all kinds of spinning, turning and carving etc. Scooting, as far as I can gather, works very much the same as in the skateboarding world. There are professional Scooter(er?)s, people of varying ages that have honed their skills enough for a company to offer them sponsorship. These people/pro’s are usually responsible for the progression of the sport, possibly inventing new tricks, which they give appropriate or quirky names for or sometimes are named after themselves. I suppose it could be said that there are quite a few aspects across all of the earlier mentioned wheeled sports that are similar. So, what is the problem? Why is there such a negative response to scooters?
Well, here’s a few reasons for why I think it might be. I’ll start with the more trivial ones and then move on to the more vile criminal acts.
Scooter(er?) Kids are usually just that, kids. I honestly cannot think of even one occasion where I have seen anyone over the age 16 on a scooter, unless of course you include seeing someones Dad thinking he’s Evel Knievel on one (Google him if you don’t know who that is). “Awe bless them, they’re just kids playing!” is probably the first thought most would have. No, there are three kinds of Scooter Kid menace. The very young and a less than competent rider, always oblivious to his surroundings. The slightly older but more competent rider, these are either oblivious to his surroundings or they just don’t care about the other park users. Then there are the kids about the same age as the second type and a little older that are actually quite good but seem to all ways be trying their best to make your visit to the park as far from enjoyable as possible. The fact that there are so many very young kids getting into Scooting speaks volumes about how easy and accessible Scooting can be for anyone, of any age.
No Park Etiquette.
The fact that they are just kids usually means that they are not really savvy in the workings of the skatepark, what to look out for and how you should behave. By park etiquette I mean that there is kind of an unspoken law in the skatepark (or at least it used to be unspoken until the scooter came on the scene). All this means really is that everyone is there to use the park, everyone is entitled to use it as much as the next person. So, as a common courtesy you take you turn and let other take theirs, fairly straightforward. Etiquette might also include other simple things like, look before you drop-in on a ramp, spot others taking lines across the park, are they going to come across your line, will you be getting in the way, should you just wait a few seconds before you drop in, are you standing and waiting in an area that is being used by someone else? As I said, this concept seems lost on the young minds of these scooter mounted menaces and too difficult to comprehend. This is clearly evident in the way that they respond the the numerous yet futile attempts at trying to communicate such a thing as simple courteous behaviour.
The lack of park etiquette, be it due to naivety or just pure ignorance, can only result in one thing, snaking. Snaking is basically not respecting the other park users by not taking their turn, dropping-in in front of people, cutting other peoples lines up and getting in the way, treating the park like it belongs only to them. Like I mentioned, they are not prepared to listen, in fact they seem quite impervious to any form of reasoning and will actually find it impossible to comprehend that they are in the wrong.
You will find, more often than not with the older ones, that a lot of Scooter Kids actually do understand the concept of etiquette and are aware of snaking. These are the ones that are always in the way, always cutting you up, hanging their front wheel over the edge of coping and of course the ones that let their mouths run. I for one find that I’m quite prepared to wring the neck of anyone that speaks to me in any away that is derogatory or disrespectful. I jest, because we’re talking about kids, you just can’t express yourself this way. As an adult I appreciate the value of a calm and sensible approach to dealing with a situation. But, unfortunately, it would seem that all attempts to communicate the fact that they are essentially ruining the skatepark experience for everyone in the park are met with foul language and various insults, or at the very least twisting and muttering about how skaters shouldn’t even be allowed be in a skatepark. I’ve seen many situations, and even had to deal with it myself, where Scooter Kids are so cheeky and even aggressive enough for all kinds of ruckus to go off, ending in someone either being hurt, the police being called or said Scooter Kid running home to get Daddy to sort out the problem he’s created for himself.
Taking for Granted and General Ignorance.
As I mentioned, I’ve overheard and had conversations with many Scooter Kids, with amazingly ignorant statements such as “Skaters shouldn’t be allowed in skateparks!”, “There should be one park for Scooters and one for everything else!” and “People have been Scooting for longer than people have being skateboarding!”. I think statements like these are an indication of the level of commitment, or lack thereof, these Scooter Kids have for their sport. I remember when I first started, it is something I’ve seen time and time again in youngsters first leaning to skate, but the interest in the sport leads you to learn about it in great detail. You find that you just seem to pick up bits of information about where the sport came from, who is most famed for their achievements and why, especially with the internet being available you can find out any information you want. But, this doesn’t seem to be happening with around 80% of all Scooter Kids I’ve spoken too. I’ve even found myself pointing out the obvious part of “Skate” in “Skatepark”. Arguably, it could be fair to say that as Scooting is fairly new in the scale of extreme sports, that it may need to be at least a little grateful for the fact that skateparks are available for their use in the first place. After all, most parks were built before the Scooter Kids came on the scene, the people that they are offending while in the park are most likely the ones that have put in a lot of hard work raising money, begging Councillors for funds and going to endless meetings and consultations. What have you as a new Scooter Kid contributed to the build and design of the park? Nothing! I don’t think they realise that back in the day if you wanted to ride ramps you had to travel 50 miles or more to an indoor park (and pay at the door) or you’d have to build it yourself.
So, those are some of the things that I have witnessed while being in skateparks, as I said earlier this is not a hate campaign against Scooter Kids, I know a few that are actually genuinely nice kids and I have no problem with at all. In fact they experience more or less the same problems as Skaters, BMXers and InLiners. Quite often you’ll see and hear them having a go at the less respectful Scooter Kids. This is something that shouldn’t be forgotten, but can sometimes easily be overlooked when there are such large numbers of kids swamping every park you go to.
I think it’s good that parks are getting full of people, it goes to show that the parks were worth building in the first place, but when a park reaches what you could consider beyond it’s safe capacity common sense would tell you it’s time to exercise some caution. Unfortunately common sense is often something that is often in short supply in the very young. But, I’m not sure that it’s an excuse that can be used and taken seriously, dropping-in on someone is not acceptable at a skatepark, it causes injuries and usually you find it’s the older ones that get it in the neck from parents of the kid that dropped in without looking. It worrying that some of these really young kids are actually in the parks unsupervised but an adult and without any padding or protection of any sort. Being in a park can be dangerous even for the most experienced riders. Getting KO’ed by a BMX that’s half way through a big 360 air is no fun in anyone’s book, never mind if you’re only half the size of the BMX itself.
I don’t understand why Scooter(er?)s don’t seem to be able to grasp this. When I ask a Scooter Kid to move it’s because 1. They’re in the way. 2. It’s gonna hurt them so much if my fully grown adult sized man limbs splatter them into the ground. 3. I can’t be bothered with slapping their parents into next week because they don’t look after their kid/s properly and don’t understand that they have released their sweet, beautiful little baby into a hurricane of fast traveling spinning metal and planks of wood, 4. I don’t need any other injuries from a Scooter that I might have already acquired anyway while skating (it happens, it’s an extreme sport after all) and 5, In the “no win, no fee” and “sue or be sued” society and “owt for nowt” mentality their parents will probably indirectly get the park closed down. Or, what I’ve seen happen is that young inexperience Scooter Kids with get themselves seriously hurt then the park will start imposing bizarre rules on all the park users or charging daft prices to get in to be able to pay any future injury claims. There are parks out there that already impose rules on their users, some indoor park will have “Scooter Only” sessions so as to out right avoid any potential problems, some parks have just altogether banned Scooters. All a bit on the harsh side when all that it would take is some of that common sense and simple courtesy to be applied.
I suspect that over time we will see a change, many fads have come and gone in the past, you’ll find that only the most dedicated will continue to be involved. I think that the key at the moment is to spot the one that are putting in the effort. Look for the difference between the kids just playing, oblivious to their surroundings, or trying to wind you up as oppose to the ones that are pushing themselves for the bigger air, most dangerous tricks, then, try to communicate the way it is in a park and why it is important, it’s got to sink in at some point. As far as dealing with the older ones that should know better (but if anyone asks it never came from me) next time they try to snake you, calmly explain why and how they are in the wrong. If they think that you’re just there to be used as their target for a skit and insist on letting their mouth go and actively, next time they try it just give them a gentle shoulder barge while at the same time give his handlebars a quick spin and watch the show, chances are you’re going to hurt them, but to your credit you did warn him to the dangers of dropping-in, and low and behold, you correctly predicted it. It might seem a bit harsh, but if they think they’re clever enough to work their ticket then they have to accept being cleverly dealt with. I’m not condoling violence, I’m merely suggesting that rather than wait for the inevitable accident to happen were both of you get hurt, just speed up the process with a sharp, short lesson in slamming.
I could go on and on, there is so much more that could be said, both in favour of and against Scooter Kids, but I’ve really got to wrap this up. By all means pop a comment at the bottom of the page, say your piece, tell me I’m right or wrong, if you’re a parent of a Scooter Kid talk to me, fight in the defense of Scooter Kids if you like, if you skate tell me about the crazy things you’ve had to put up with from these kids, how and if they got out of hand, or how best to calmly deal with a situation, just make sure you keep it clean and half way legible.