Make no mistake about it, rollerblade skating or inline skating is a growing sport in the United States and everywhere else in the world. As American sports entertainment becomes a staple of cable television in all four corners of the globe, expect the growth of in line skating as both a sports activity for people to enjoy as well as a spectator sport.
In fact, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association in the United States, inline skating’s participation level grew four times. We’re talking 400% in between the years 1992 to 1995. According to American demographic statistics, close to 32 million Americans aged seven years old and above, participated in some kind of inline skating activity in 1998.
This is old data as you can probably already tell. If we project the growth rate from that period of 20 years ago to now, inline skating is a huge sport. There are extreme in line skating sports as part of the X Games and its popularity continues to grow.
What Accounts for This Popularity?
Considering the rise of in line skating, why is it such a growing sport? What explains its appeal to Americans and Western Europeans, as well as inhabitants of other countries?
Well first of all, it’s very easy to see its fitness applications. You actually get the best of both worlds when you do inline skating. On the one hand, you get tremendous amount of calorie burn. You burn lots of calories by working your lower body. I am of course talking about your legs, thighs, calves, even butt and hips. As you increase your speed, you increase intensity and this can lead to a tremendous amount of cardiovascular exercise, as well as resistance exercise for the lower part of your body.
If you are rollerblading long distances, inline skating can also burn a lot of calories through endurance. It builds up your stamina. The best part to all of this is that it’s a fairly low impact sport. A lot of people do inline skating at a speed that is slightly below an extremely intense level. This enables them to cover a larger area doing inline skating and to skate for a far longer time.
The end result is you burn a lot more calories without feeling necessarily tired. This is a great combination and it’s no surprise that inline skating has excited both men and women. It also has a tremendous cross demographic appeal. We’re talking about people from all ethic backgrounds, all age ranges, and all areas of the country.
When it comes to physical sport, inline skating is definitely a great, accessible, and easy to take up sport compared to other sports like swimming, for example, which requires a pool.
If you want to take up swimming, you better have a backyard swimming pool or your homeowners association or condominium better have a shared swimming pool. If you don’t have a swimming pool in your common areas, you better hope that in your district in your city, you have a public pool. Unfortunately, this is too much to assume for a lot of people. That’s why swimming poses serious barriers in terms of sports growth because it’s not always accessible.
This is not the case with inline skating or rollerblading, you only need to invest in low cost inline skates and you’re good to go, seriously. As long as there is a flat surface in your area, whether indoor or outdoor, you are good to go.
It is no surprise that a lot of people are taking up the sport because it’s very easy to access, it’s available for most people and it’s fairly easy to learn. Its accessibility goes a long way in explaining its tremendous growth as an American and Western European past time.
Appeal to Individualism
Another reason why a lot of people are turning on to inline skating is because it’s part of a growing trend towards staying in your own space or minding your own space. Thanks to the rise of the iPod, the iPad, and the iPhone, gadgets have made people more individualistic.
People tend to be more inward looking. It’s a common sight to see people all alone staring at their gadgets. They are just so focused and absorbed with what they are doing. This is part of a growing trend. Another aspect of this is the increasing popularity of mindfulness and meditation.
Usually, when you practice mindfulness you do it alone. Well, there is no such a thing as group meditation. Ultimately it’s an individual activity. It’s all about you attaining peace at the present moment. In other words, nobody can step into your mind. Only you can do it and that’s why meditation is at its deepest level, a very private activity.
In line with this, is the rise of individual sports. Inline skating is a very individual sport. It’s obviously not a team sport unless you do roller hockey or roller soccer. Other than that, it enables you to cover a large area by yourself. You tap into a sense of freedom and autonomy that a lot of people find very, very attractive, thanks to the rise of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
Inline skating’s explosive popularity in North America and other areas of the world is just one example of this recent trend towards increased levels of individualism.
Renewed Optimism in Wide Open Spaces
The wide open space of the country road, the provincial field, and the rustic countryside has always been part of the romantic fantasy life of people in the West. It is too easy, according to this tradition, to equate the wide open spaces with the value of freedom. Hence, the cowboy, the lone individual, the maverick. This all changed after World War II. All of a sudden (well, not quite) the action turned to the city, the cosmopolitan, the metropole. There was something in the concrete and steel and gleaming jungles of the modern city that appealed to the modern sense of exploration and freedom. Freedom was to be found in the hustle and bustle of crowded city living and competition. It was this busy diverse and rootless cramped space that supposedly freed the inner drive to prove ones’ self and to rise above the tribe, the herd, and the faceless crowd. Well, the pendulum swung again in the 1980s and people began to rediscover the simple charms of the open space once again. And that’s where are currently are!