Is Skateboarding Lacking a Code of Ethics?

Seemingly the popularity of skateboarding has started to grow again and it’s now reaching newer participants and groups that it never did before. Overall this is a great thing. However, with newcomers reaching a critical mass, it is becoming apparent that many are not aware of the “unwritten rules” of skateboarding. While it may not seem like a big deal to some, some of these infractions can ruin what we’ve been doing for years. These “unwritten rules” use to help regulate a pretty esoteric activity, but now that skateboarding is more or less mainstream it may be time to consider codifying and enforcing the rules. Or, at least have a mature discussion about them.

Where I’m coming from:

I started to consider the ethics of skateboarding because of a couple different things, but most notably was the brutal assault of a security guard in San Francisco in late November last year. The assault left Pizza Skateboards pro, Jesse Vieira, accused of several felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon, and paints several other notable skateboarders, including Brian Delatorre, in a very poor light.

Jesse Vieira Thrasher Cover
Jesse Vieira on the cover of Thrasher (August ’18)

The details of the video/situation have been exhaustively argued from both perspectives on the Slap forum. Without beating a dead horse, I’d say for me it’s impossible to understand why this transpired, mainly because, as skateboarders, we knowingly put ourselves into these situations by skateboarding on private property. So why not bounce if you are asked to leave? I think this should go without any argument, no ifs ands, or buts, because by becoming a nuisance you are potentially blowing out a spot. Not to mention, is getting a trick really worth hassling a security guard who is just scraping by a living? To me it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there was a time in my life where I would run around a security guard or ask for another try. Now I choose to let it go. To us skateboarders, we aren’t harming anything. It’s just skateboarding. No big deal. However, we cannot expect others to see it our way and not get worked up over it. To them it’s not “just skateboarding, no big deal.” So when someone asks you to leave just split, go grab a coffee, go to the park, hit another spot because your trick isn’t that important.

OK. Assault may not be cool, but what about modifying spots?

I am not at all advocating for the demise of street skateboarding, but I’d like to discuss where we draw a line on when or where it’s appropriate to skate? How do we conduct ourselves? Are we leaving the spot better for others, the owners? Should a spot ever be modified? These are a few points I think we should consider when out skateboarding.

For me the approach to street skateboarding should try to mimic a “leave no trace” ideology as much as possible, and street skateboarding should be as organic as possible. This would include not modifying spots (cutting kinks, among other things). I think it shows much more talent to skate a spot as it is rather than to manipulate it to your needs. It’s one thing to bondo a crack (if done well), but to Sawzall something maybe a little extreme. An example of this is from Corey Glick’s Skaters in Cars segment with Chris Nieratko.

Fish out of water

The 50-50 on this decorative bike rack was gnarly, but did Corey go too far by altering the spot? Some metal worker/artist spent valuable time constructing these and for what? For someone to alter them to get a trick for their X-Games Real Street part? Sorry, but to me that’s lame.

Littering is always stupid.

A really easy way to ruin a spot for everyone is littering. Pack it in and pack it out. It’s really not that hard to do,and this isn’t exclusive to just skateboarders either. Don’t be like Kadow and throw doughnuts all over the ground, especially when you are a visitor in another city. Also, yes, littering cigarette butts all over the ground is lame too. Don’t do it.

Nothing says Punk Rock like skating for a multi-billion dollar company

Another assault? Jesus.

Another great way to ruin a spot, if you consider someone else’s home a “spot,” is to assault the person living there. Don’t be like the dudes in this video.


I can hear everyone saying it now, “Part of what makes skateboarding great is it’s lawlessness.” I agree, but I think I speak for a lot of us who might think it’s okay to tone it down just a tad? Maybe turn that 11 down to a cool 8? I’m just saying we should all strive to be better stewards of our shared spaces. So when you are out hitting the streets maybe be a little more deliberate with how we interact with our surroundings and each other. It’s better to be super cool to everyone then to be an entitled asshole.


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