Some skateboarders don't want to see their sport in the Olympics. Here's why others say it's a positive step

    Japan's Yuto Horigome competes in the men's street final at the Tokyo Olympics on July 25.

    (CNN)Skateboarding is an Olympic event this year for the first time in the history of the Games.

    For any other sport, that would be a cause for celebration. But skateboarding isn't like any other sport.
    When Tokyo organizers first recommended that skateboarding be added to the lineup, thousands of people signed a petition asking the International Olympic Committee to decide otherwise. Once it became official, many in the skateboarding community reacted with disdain.
      Thrasher, the San Francisco-based skateboarding magazine, put it like this: "Like many skaters, we have mixed feelings about skateboarding appearing in the next Olympics. And by mixed feelings we mean disgust combined with a headache."
        Ask any skater and they'll tell you skateboarding isn't a sport so much as a lifestyle, a community, a state of mind. Over the years, it's battled an outlaw reputation, persisting even as skateboarders were allowed few spaces where they could skate freely.
        For skateboarding to go from the counterculture to the most mainstream of sporting events is, to a certain subset of skaters, selling out.
        "What people are against, what they're worried about is that they're going to lose a little bit of that freedom to explore," said Neftalie Williams, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Southern California and a visiting fellow at the Yale Schwarzman Center who studies skate culture.
        For other skaters, however, Olympic skateboarding is an inevitable next step for a multibillion dollar industry with major professional competitions. More importantly, it has the potential to transform how the world sees skateboarding -- and people who skate.
        Here's why some are welcoming the sport's inclusion.

        It's expanding the platform for marginalized skaters

        Some of the most vocal arguments against Olympic skateboarding have come from men and male-dominated spaces.
        It's a reality not lost on Adrian Koenigsberg. She's the founder of Quell Skateboarding, a media outlet dedicated to increasing the visibility of women, gender non-conforming people and other marginalized skateboarders.
        Alana Smith of Team USA competes in the women's street skateboarding final on July 26.
        Men, Koenigsberg says, have always had the platforms and the opportunities to express themselves through skateboarding. They've dominated the covers of magazines, been able to secure big-name sponsorships and had contests to compete in that women didn't.
        While the landscape has started to change, it's hard to deny the opportunity that the Olympics affords women and LGBTQ skateboarders.
        "For a very long time, our history as nontraditional skateboarders has been erased in media, so it is really exciting right now to see that playing out in the Olympics and having that public space," she said. "Because for so long, we have had to fight for those public spaces and any sort of visibility."
        Margielyn Didal of Team Philippines competes in the women's street skateboarding final in Tokyo.
        The Olympics are one of those rare occasions where women's sports seem to garner just as much attention, if not more, than men's sports. When Japan's Momiji Nishiya and Brazil's Rayssa Leal, both 13-year-old girls, took home gold and silver in last week's street competition, a global audience was cheering them on.
        It's also huge for representation. Team USA's roster includes world-class skater Alexis Sablone, who identifies as queer, and Alana Smith, who identifies as non-binary. For Nora Rector, a volunteer with the Montana-based skateboarding community Girls on Shred who identifies as non-binary, it was refreshing.
        "That's a really awesome thing to see, especially for young people who are feeling those same feelings, where they don't quite fit into one gender or another," Rector said.

        It's exposing more people to skateboarding

        The Olympics also have the potential to introduce skateboarding to people who otherwise might not have engaged with the sport.
        For staff members at the iconic KCDC Skateshop in Brooklyn, skateboarding is a vehicle for building self-confidence, learning to overcome challenges and expressing yourself creatively. That even a few more young people might reap those same benefits is reason to applaud its inclusion at the Olympics, said shop owner Amy Ellington.
        Japan's Momiji Nishiya competes at the Olympic street skateboarding preliminaries on July 26.
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