Unless you are Mike Vallely you are probably not rolling around the streets rocking a helmet and that's okay.
I get it.
Helmets often are looked down upon as being lame and can also have an impact on your performance. They can also save you from the grim reaper.
The amount of damage that can be done to one's brain is increasing drastically every day/month/year. Tricks are also getting bigger and bigger and are being attempted or done in the Golden Age of Social Media. Today there is way more pressure to pull off insane or NDB tricks to show the world.
I'll admit, I never wore a helmet unless I was at a park or somewhere that required me to do so. During those times I would be thankful that I had my helmet on. It gave me a sense of security. A feeling that I knew I could go all out and push my limits to the max.
More often than not, I never even thought about wearing a helmet in the street back in the day. Even after launching off my friends 4' launch ramp. Yeah, you read that right 4 feet high. I'll never forget the feeling of approaching it. The ramp almost seemed to go on forever then SILENCE. I was floating above the concrete with air flowing through my hair...without a helmet.
I've been very fortunate enough to not have too many Marty McFly moments of bouncing my head on the pavement.
Now I do remember hitting my head on the ground really badly one night back in the day. A close friend and I were skating to the local convenience store as we often did for some late-night snacks.
We were cruising along as we always, but for some reason (maybe because it was at night time) I had forgotten that there was a huge uneven part of the sidewalk with about a 1" crack.
I remember I was going pretty fast and then all of a sudden hitting the crack, which threw me to the ground as I bounced the back of my head on the sidewalk.
It went dark for a second and I recall seeing what I though were stars as most people describe. It was super scary and I don't even think I ever told my parents about it.
Maybe I did, but I can't remember. No pun intended.
I also don't think there was any long-term damage done as I've since had a CAT scan on my brain due to frequent migraines (not related to skating). Everything checked out at the time. I got lucky.
If I were to guess how many street skaters actually wear helmets today I would say maybe 5-7%. That's just a gut check guess. I'll be sure to do a follow up number down the road as I do more research on this topic. It's not a lot and I bet my number is pretty damn close or even a bit high.
Nevertheless, It's a topic that is definitely not going away soon. It's a sports-wide issue that has only just barely seen the light.
With that, what is it going to take in order to cause a huge shift in the other direction? The death of a prominent rider? I sure hope not.
Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash
Just in the past year alone we've already seen some pretty gnarly slams around the world. Jamie Foy and Ivan Montero instantly come to mind.
And more recently, Dustin Dollin who took a really bad slam filming the latest Independent Trucks' Video "Scabs for Slabs". Some scary stuff indeed. Check out the video on Thrasher's website.
Bouncing your head on the ground is slowly losing it's cool factor.
Sure, it all really comes down to each individual knowing their limitations and choosing to put on a helmet for times when things could really ugly or deadly. But is it really worth the risk? Some would say, yes.
It's helmet pioneers like Mike V. who is leading by example. I believe that others will soon follow, but it's going to be a slow and gradual process.
How do you stand on the whole helmet for street skating issue?
Skateboarding changed my life.