Friday, June 27, 2008

Just about everything in life is apparently worthwhile.

I met several people involved with the Olympics when I tried to get into modeling at that Olympic fundraiser. I recently received an email from a woman who was involved with the event (although I have no idea if she was there, or if I met her. I'm bad with names.) She was hoping I could host a few other events for the athletes. I plan to do so if I can, since we certainly need to make sure our athletes can make it to Beijing. Especially since I read that article about Chinese athletes in Time magazine. Their government sports department is apparently scouring the countryside and scouting kindergarten classes. This is no joke. They measure the kids, and check their bone structure, to determine whether they have the capacity to excel at a certain sport. All this at the age of six. Then those kids who are deemed to have potential are taken from their families and put into these massive state-run athletic institutions, and whatever sport has been designated to them becomes their entire life. For the next fifteen years, they learn, say, weightlifting. Day in and day out and nothing else. Until the Olympics.

It's a system akin to the old Soviet system which created all those bionic athletes in the U.S.S.R. and East Germany all those years ago. And how are we Canadians to compete with that? Well, with...fundraisers. OK. Anyway, I digress. The point I was going to make here is that in one of these emails, there was a list of local athletes who are trying to make it to Beijing. And one of the names was familiar to me. I went to high school with Crispin Lipscomb. I don't think I knew him, I may never have actually spoken to him, but I remembered the name because it's unusual. As I recalled, he was one of those skater kids. The ones who spent their lunch hours, and the hours before school, and the hours after school, and very often the hours during school, skateboarding in the street on First Avenue.

These were the kids we watched for a laugh. I remember before football practice after school, while we stretched we would watch the skaters trying out tricks. And it was hilarious, because not once, in five years of high school, did any of us, ever, see one skater land one trick. Not once. They kept on trying. They flipped their boards in the air and fell off. They jumped in the air, put their board against the railing, and landed on their feet while the board sailed off into traffic. Every now and then, one of them would try a BIG trick, despite the fact that they had never once in their lives landed a small trick. And they would end up like Robin Harper.

I always assumed that, since none of them ever landed a trick on a skateboard, that the whole scene was more about culture than about actual skateboarding. The actual skateboard was merely a means to an end - an end that involved wearing baggy pants around mid-thigh, exposing It-Store boxers, crooking their baseball hats to one side, walking with a fake limp, saying "yo" a lot and listening to Pennywise. And then somehow being immortalized in song by that acute judge of pop culture, Avril Lavigne. And although you could do all of these things without carrying a skateboard around, they would call you a "poser" if you did. So you had to carry it with you, regardless of whether you had a clue about what to do with it.

But apparently, hidden within this culture, were people who actually DID know what to do with a skateboard! Among them - one Crispin Lipscomb, who I now discover is an actual Olympic athlete in - skateboarding. While his contemporaries are now working at drive-thrus and cubicles and selling T-Shirts on the beach in Mexico, here's a guy who turned this skateboarding thing into an actual vocation! This amazes me. I wonder if he was that much more skilled than his buddies in high school, or if he was the only one that didn't really understand the culture, and by extension was the only one who really tried to improve his actual skateboarding. It also makes him, I can only assume, the only skater in the history of Glebe Collegiate Institute ever to actually land a skateboarding trick. An impressive achievement, and I hope he does well over in Beijing. Then when he comes back, I hope he can give Robin Harper some pointers.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Eric - Heads up! This is a note from the woman who asked you to come on out to Perth & help promote our athletes! Don't be surprised if the skater kid calls or emails you! We're looking forward to you coming out to Perth for Nick Tritton's birthday & golf tournament on July 20th (better watch Kung Fu Panda a few more times...rumour has it that you will be golfing with Nick & two other gents who are also heading to Beijing for judo!)and also for the Blushing Brides concert on August 2nd! We might have to turn you into an honourary Perthite, if not an Olympic athlete! See ya soon out in the Valley! Kat.