The surf-and-skate industry is a multibillion-dollar company that incorporates hundreds of global, continental, and national brands and enterprises.
From a market viewpoint, the sports of surfing and electric skateboard are commonly evaluated together since they have common consumers, goods, and interests.
There are surfers who skate and skaters who surf.
Since it became an outdoor physical activity in the late 1950s with the debut of Albert C. Boyden’s “Humco Surfer,” skateboarding went through numerous periods of progression.
In the early 1960s, there were already multiple skateboard manufacturers inventing new designs, as well as a parallel commercial environment releasing movies, periodicals, contests, and promotional skate excursions.
Between 1962 and 1965, the US skateboarding market sold over 50 million boards fitted with inexpensive clay wheels.
Then, abruptly, the sport went dramatically owing to substandard products, surplus supply, a public disturbed by dangerous riding, and the first skateboard prohibitions.
In Christmas 1965, skateboard makers struck rock bottom, and many small and medium-sized enterprises closed down.
Skateboarding’s first rebirth took place in 1970 with the creation of the urethane wheel, a piece of equipment that would revolutionise the sport.
Also, North America saw the creation of the world’s first skateparks, and manufacturers work on manufacturing better trucks, and creative board designs, with better and more robust materials.
From 1970 to 1990, the number of recreational, amateur, and professional skateboarders rose tremendously, with vert and street skating grabbing the imagination of the youth.
However, in 1991, the skate business suffered another big hit.
A global economic slump impacted the sport, and skate businesses faced severe financial losses. Rollerblades were also a new player capturing a relevant portion of market share.
Consequently, nearly only extreme skaters were hitting the streets.
But things were about to change, and skateboarding was going to recover from the ashes.
With the emergence of satellite television, cable TV, inexpensive camcorders, and videotape recorders, youth have a new avenue to express themselves.
Skate shoe producers started selling enormous amounts of items, and the business, once again, began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
With the advent of ESPN’s X Games, the popularity of skateboarding reached unparalleled levels and new audiences.
In 1995, the first-ever ESPX Extreme Games – the inaugural designation of the sports series – had an attendance of 500,000.
In the following years, millions of spectators viewed the live broadcast of the X Games at home, and many would subsequently give skateboarding a shot.
Skateboarding Participation: The Figures
So, the question is – how many active, recreational and professional skateboarders are there riding the streets and skateparks of the world?
The numbers differ.
But one thing is clear: in the first year of the new millennium, snowboarding and skateboarding were the two fastest-growing sports in the world.
One of the earliest market research surveys found that the number of skateboarders globally climbed more than 60 percent, from 7.8 million in 1999 to 12.5 million in 2002.
Also, by 2001, there were more Americans under the age of 18 riding skateboards (10.6 million) than playing baseball (8.2 million) (8.2 million).
In 1995, a group of skate industry experts created the International Organisation of Skateboard Companies (IASC), a not-for-profit skateboarding trade association.
The purpose of the organisation is to represent the sport’s business interests and to promote and encourage skateboarding participation.
IASC was quite active for several years and presented various studies on the rise of skateboarders.
In 2002, the organisation projected 20 million skateboarders globally, 16 million of which in the United States, and about a third – over five million skaters – in California.
Throughout the United States, there were more than 800 skateparks accessible and available to skateboarders.
Around 300 skateboard firms were offering decks, wheels, trucks, bearing, grip tape, mounting hardware, shoes, apparel, backpacks, t-shirts, and other related products.
In California, particularly around the turn of the 2000, there were 18,000 individuals working in skate-related industries.
In conclusion, the statistics indicated above vary from 12.5 to 20 million skateboarders globally in 2002.
The proper answer should be somewhere in the middle.
In 2009, two years after the onset of the international financial crisis, an IASC-based publication reported that there were 11.1 million skateboarders worldwide.
The discrepancies in estimating skateboarding involvement are more noticeable a decade later.
In 2017, studies suggest that there were 85 million skateboarders globally, of which 6.44 million were skateboarders riding in the United States.
The initial interpretation is that, evidently, the number of international skateboarding participants rose while the number of American skaters fell.