As fair weather continues, they are seen all around - teenage boys clutching a skateboard or weaving down a sidewalk on the narrow, wheeled platforms. But skateboarding is taking an increasing toll in cuts, bruises, broken bones, and even the loss of life.
At least two young people have been killed recently by cars while skateboarding in Utah, and a number have been badly injured. Across the country, an estimated 350,000 youngsters between the ages of 10 and 14 are hurt each year skateboarding, and thousands of others suffer minor hurts in skateboard falls.In fact, it is one of the basic realities of skateboarding that spills and injuries are part of the activity. Just about every skateboarder has had one or more serious falls. Yet few youngsters wear the recommended helmets, gloves, and elbow and knee pads.
Salt Lake City bans skateboarding in the downtown area, yet every day, youngsters can be seen whizzing on the city's streets and sidewalks, keeping an eye out for police.
Many communities around the nation - frustrated with damage to sidewalks, monuments, benches, and sides of buildings, and wary of collisions and near-collisions between skateboard enthusiasts and cars and pedestrians - have banned skateboarding.
The sport began in the 1960's, faded from view, then revived in recent years.It has become a multi-million dollar industry for some firms. Skateboards, cost an average of $100 and can run much higher.
Few adults - with perhaps the exception of some who have been bumped by a skateboarder, or hit in the pocketbook by a skateboarding offspring, or seen a child badly hurt - want to outlaw skateboards.
But there should be a growing awareness of the dangers involved, of the need to avoid crowded downtown areas, and an insistence that proper protective gear be worn when riding a skateboard. Otherwise, skateboarding can be just asking fortrouble, usually for the skateboarder.