Yesterday a friend of mine and my six year old son went to Marion, Arkansas to skate their skatepark. It's a modular, pre-fab skatepark around maybe 7000sqft. A four year old boy was skating there and a teenage skater told him to get the f#@k
out of his way. Not a pretty site and you really feel for the little boy. Your first thought is that skater was a jerk! Then the little boy's dad gets in the skaters face and is about ready to kick the you know what out of him. At this point I intevene and try to solicit an apology from the skater to the dad, the dad turns on me, like and angry bear, and my friend is prepared to crack the father over the head with his skateboard. All this is happening around an audience of almost 30 skaters. What's wrong with this picture? A 40+ dad is about to get a felony if he touches this skater and another 37 year old Dad (me) is about to get punched. It was shameful to see a grown man act like that and it's was equally shameful to see a 4 year old get cussed out!
Here is the problem:
1. The Dad was not even in the skate park. He was 50 yards away in the parking lot inside his car. He should have been in the park next to his son. He should have had his son in area away from the main action- where my six year old was skating. If there were a couple of skaters perhaps that would have been ok but the place was packed.
The City of Marion
2. Posted signs are critical for ensuring safety at a skate park: A sign should have read " Children under the age of 10 must be accompanied by a guardian or parent"
3. I understand the skaters frustration of going for a trick and having a 4 year old directly in your landing spot. Not a pretty picture for both parties. Still he had no business yelling at the kid. He should have asked the father to keep his boy in a safer area. But then that's asking a teenager to behave like an parent and when you have a parent that is acting like a idiot , I am not sure if that would have helped.
The greater area of Memphis-not enough skate parks
4. Communities, including Memphis need to recognize just how popular skating has become. Every small skatepark around Memphis ( Hornlake, Southhaven, Houston Levee, Marion) is packed these days with far too many skaters. Our existing skateparks are overcrowded and thus not very safe for the beginners.
We need neighborhood parks to accomodate a swelling population of skaters. Imagine getting rid of 3/4 of our baseball or footbal fields-that's the current scenario if you are a skater- you drive 10-20 miles to go do your sport. Thankfully Memphis City Parks and Rec is on the ball and is helping to resolve this situation.