Skateboarding, for all practical intents and purposes, is an Art, not a sport. That's why it's never translated well into forums like the X Games, and why the majority of the art's best practitioners will never be household names. People like Tony Hawk and Bob Burnquist are certainly superior skateboarders, but the talent of people like Bobby Puleo or Cairo Foster remains shielded from the public eye. (This is not lamentable, however, because true skateboarders prefer being out of the spotlight.)
With the proliferation of public skateparks over the past few years, skateboarding has seen a lot of change. One good thing is that the public's perception of the activity has become more positive; unfortunately, skating's popularity has watered down its creativity by subjugating skateboarders to an "in-the-box" (or an "in-the-park") mode of thinking. The fact remains that the most spontaneous, most innovative and most creative skateboarding will continue to occur in the dirty streets, not on sterile prefab ramps in front of bleachers filled with parents who probably wished that their kids played soccer instead.
However, the thrill of competition can bring forth moments of inspired skating too, as the tyranny of the clock and the course force the creative skater to stretch a little further than the park designer ever imagined. In the hope of witnessing (or creating) those fleeting moments, check out the PlayStation Big Hook Up tour on Saturday, May 7, at the ESPN X Games Skatepark at St. Louis Mills mall (5555 St. Louis Mills Boulevard, Hazelwood; www.xgamesskatepark.com).
In addition to skateboarding, this competition includes BMX and in-line contests. Everyone who competes is awarded a small prize, but more substantial prizes are reserved for those in each discipline who win on Saturday: a free weeklong trip to train at Camp Woodward in Pennsylvania, a PlayStation 2 system and a chance to compete in the tour's finals. There, participants are eligible to win a grand prize, which is $5,000, a PlayStation Portable, and a scholarship for Camp Woodward's east- and west-coast facilities. Kids ages seven to twenty may compete (in two separate age groups), and they may register on the day of the event beginning at 10 a.m. ($14). For more information call 314-227-5630 or check out www.us.playstation.com.