by Neil Brown

Skateboard parks are popping up these days like prom night pimples. Parks are everywhere from old warehouses to churches, even municipalities are stepping up to provide places for skateboarders to avoid the hassles of prosecution or a better word might be persecution (but that's another diatribe). With skateparks comes a whole new slew of problems for skateboarders.

I have been riding for twelve years and can not even begin to count the parks I have skated. However one thing does stand out in my mind — pugilism. The dictionary defines pugilism as the art or practice of fighting with the fists. You might know it as handing out a beat down. In these days of pressure cooker skateparks seething with skateboarders like fire ants in their hill it does not surprise me that we turn on each other. Last week I witnessed one of the most illogical displays of confrontation between two skateboarders I think I have ever seen. The park was packed as usual during the winter season. I tried to find refuge from the traffic of the street course on the ramp. For a while the unspoken etiquette of runs was in effect. Nice and easy, we all just took our runs and rested patiently between. Then in the blink of an eye things became heated. The whistle blew it was snake session time, every man for himself. Now to return to the confrontation, for the sake of this story I will name the two contenders Punch and Judy. Punch drops in and directly opposite him Judy drops in simultaneously. The impending doom of a flat bottom head on collision sent a lump into my throat. Punch dodged to his left and Judy dove. All is well that ends well, they barely escaped injury. Judy jumped to his feet and quickly apologized, assuming guilt although there was none. Punch on the other hand was not so ready to let his manhood be tested in front of a crowd. Punch shouted, "Yo, if you would dah hurt me, I dah beat yah down!" Judy once again apologized, but that just was not enough for Punch's wounded masculinity. By this time Punch and Judy had climbed onto the deck taking the appropriate position, face to face, closer than two lovers in Paris. Punch's threats persisted and Judy had to step up. "Ding Ding" I think I heard the bell chime. What was so ridiculous to me was that Punch and Judy were about to trade their narrow escape of injury in the flat bottom for a bout of guaranteed mutual injury. Just then an older skater dropped in. He carved backside and placed his butt between the two opponents. He turned his head and shouted, "Ladies if you want to fight take it outside!" The humor was just enough to cut the gravy like tension in the air. Punch left for the street course and Judy dropped in for a run. Do not get me wrong, I am as big a fan of boxing as Don King, hell I have even delivered a few punches (received a few more) in my time. But not once did I fight in a skatepark or with a skateboarder. So the next time you are in line to pay your membership fee at a skatepark, think about what you are really there for, because a boxing gym will be just as happy to take your money and it might better suit you.