By Kyle Swirbliss
What do you think of when you hear the term longboarding? In just over the span of a year, longboarding went from being ideals upheld by one specific group of people to one of the newest and most prevalent subcultures at Fitchburg State. This form of skateboarding is seen on lots of college campuses because of the relatively low equipment costs (boards can range from 150-250 dollars), the ease of travel it provides for students on and around campus, and the ease of which they can be stored whether in the classroom or in a dorm room (although some boards can extend themselves to more than six feet in length).
It’s a sport easy enough for anyone to pick up, but once it’s picked up it’s not easy to stop, quite literally as a few pushes is all one needs to get moving. More and more people are getting into the trend because of the simplistic nature of it and the inclusivity of the sport, meaning, you don’t have to feel the need to be fantastic at it to keep enjoying it.
When we stopped a local boarder on campus this is what he had to say on the subject: “The best thing about longboarding is nobody can choose how involved you are in the sport except for you. It’s nice to see that longboarding has found its way onto campus because it has a range like no other sport and has so much potential for so many people.”
For most people, just having a board makes them somewhat involved, and from what we know about the sport, that’s perfectly okay. It’s a community that is astoundingly non-judgmental when it comes to skill level, something that most other hobbies and sports can’t say. So far, we haven’t seen any serious accidents caused by longboarding on or near our Fitchburg campus, but one would ask should there be rules and safety regulations to protect students and faculty?
Without the proper safety equipment (helmets, gloves, arm pads, knee pads) accidents can range from minor scratches or road-burn, to more serious injuries like broken bones or internal trauma (especially head injuries which can cause permanent damage) even for those who aren’t responsible. Currently there are no rules restricting use, instead from the student handbook we see the university expects students to be responsible for themselves: “Student Code of Conduct Fitchburg State University expects its students to act in a mature and responsible manner. Respect for the rights of others, openness to new and challenging ideas, civility and courtesy are examples of this expectation. The Student Discipline System has been established to address alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct.”
Some schools took the initiative of starting a club for the sport so that students can be organized in their “cruising” and be safer while out and about, but currently there is no club on campus in support for longboarding and its growing popularity here at Fitchburg. No doubt the sport now has a strong presence here on campus, for now students and faculty must hope that riders will continue to be respectful of others on campus and be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others both on and off campus. Pedestrians must now more than ever be mindful of their surroundings even on the sidewalk, there’s more than enough room for everyone.