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Crews, Not Gangs » What if sk8 crews went militant?

Have you ever stopped to think how similar sk8 crews are to gangs? OK, it's a little offbeat as subjects go, but the similarities are pretty interesting when you weigh in the differences.

So, what is a sk8 crew?
Pretty much it's a group of friends who skate together - a group of people bonded by a common passion for skateboarding. Skateboarding returns them to core spots they love to ride, leads them to discover new spots and prompts epic road trips to known or unknown spots. Essentially, they are bound to one another through skateboarding. Naturally, they have other commonalities like musical taste, social interests, hobbies and whatever, but the common thread is skating.

Known spots are known - no point in hiding them or trying to keep them under the radar. What about a new spot like a vacation home who's pool recently developed a crack and self-drained? No one knows, but you because your Mom is a real estate agent and it's one of her properties. She's freaking out because she has to track down the owner and a solution. You heard her desperation on the phone and you know what's up. An empty pool that no one else knows about!

You round up your crew and head over. Jump the fence. Scope things out. Then you have a killer session in a pool that's never been skated and no one knows about. Your crew hits it for several days, occasionally dodging cops, but eventually someone talks.

The next time your crew jumps that fence, you hear a commotion, then music. Your new spot is no secret. It's been invaded. But that's cool. The crowd at the pool is full of familiar faces - people you've skated with many times before. One of them brought a boom-box and others brought the latest bootlegs they've downloaded and everyone is having a blast.

With some of the new faces, come new tricks, new ways of creating lines and a few new bands you've never heard before. They invaded your pool, but everyone's skating and everyone has something to contribute, from tricks and tunes to style and a raw sense of humor. All's good.

Eventually, you discover one of your crew just couldn't keep his mouth shut any longer and had to tell someone about the killer pool you'd been seshing. It was bound to happen and always will, but meeting other skaters and getting them vibed on your "real estate connection" to new spots makes you everyone's new best friend (although they still talk crap about ya behind your back).

The bottom line is everyone is pretty stoked, had a good time and will likely tell everyone they know until 500 people show up to sesh and the cops arrive in riot gear. Life could be worse.

Gang Mentality

What if your sk8 crew operated like a street gang and that cool skate spot was your turf? Turf is protected, not shared. When others venture onto your turf, they've crossed a line and need to be pushed back. All the rules change. Sk8 crews are bound by common interests and friendship. Gangs are bound by physical territory and secrets (i.e. who killed who, etc...). Their turf, unlike your skate spot, is where they live. Your sk8 spot is likely on public property or someone else's private property.

You'd defend your home with the same zeal with which a gang defends it's turf. That empty back-yard pool isn't your home and it isn't worth dying for or jail time. Besides, once the cops or owners fully evict you from their backyard, you'll go find another one. No big deal - just part of the game.

Imagine if you had to carry a gun to keep people off your ramp. Imagine if you had to shoot someone who skated your ramp without permission in order to send a message to others who might want to skate your ramp. What if they shot back? Or what if you killed that guy skating your ramp and his whole gang came after you? One starts to get the feeling of a never ending cycle or a cycle that ends with your death.

Crew -vs- Gang

So what's the difference between your skate crew and a street gang? Motivation.
You and your crew seek fun. Gangs typically seek revenge. I'm sure your skate crew gets into plenty of arguments, fights and assorted BS, but how often does it cost a life?

People from all walks of life regardless of age, race, skill or background can unite as skaters. It's interesting the way both groups have strong bonds to their commitments (for lack of a better term) yet resolve issues so differently. Skaters seem to embrace diversity where gangs repel it.

Skateboarding is fun. Remember that next time you hear a kid bitching that he got no response from his sponsor-me video.

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