Aeroplane has made a common mistake in defining skateboarding as a formerly "underground activity." Skateboarding's popularity has gone in cycles. It started out, of course, as a subculture of the surf scene- underground by definition. The skateboarding of that time, however, was about as related to the skateboarding of today as those bicycles with gigantic front wheels are to BMX (or even to your first little Huffy with training wheels.)

In the golden age of the early 70's, skateboarding was pretty mainstream and organized. In his autobiography Hawk, Tony Hawk comments that skaters used to have runs choreographed (sometimes to music, in the case of freestylers) by skate coaches. When skateboarding died in the late 70's, skateboarding's "rebel" image was cemented as only a few gnarly and dedicated skaters like the Dogtown Z-Boys kept skating. During this time, skating could definitely be considered underground.

Skating exploded again in the mid 80's, as new parks opened and companies like Powell got huge. Skating's underground status began to erode again as Powell made big-budget skate films and tried to replace skating's motto of "skate and destroy" with "skate and create."

Another death in the late 80's pushed skateboarding from the mainstream again until about 1992. During this time, street skating really took off, and skaters' reputation for destroying handrails and ledges by grinding rescucitated its "outlaw" image.

The late 90's have been an incredible boom time for skating, leading to the creation of almost all of the companies mentioned in Aeroplane's skateboard distribution companies node. Skateboarding is indeed mainstream now, and many skaters mourn the gradual loss of its illegitimacy. The people who will most oppose skating's entrance into the Olympics will be skaters themselves. Fears of selling out are a part of every "subculture." Like the punk scene, the real spirit of skating will endure as long as people are still riding for the love of it. That's the real point. Loving skateboarding. When skating eventually dies again the true skaters will keep the spirit alive, regardless of skateboarding's popularity.