A New York Times article titled “Snowboarding, Once a High-Flying Sport, Crashes To Earth” was published yesterday citing a,“A weakened global economy, shifting weather patterns and changing tastes and technology” as the culprits for the worldwide decline.
A struggling economy is partly responsible for the decrease in retail revenue. With less money to spend, cutbacks on recreational spending in tough times are to be expected. Also, while many of us swear by our local board shops, when a national retailer like Sports Authority announces they are filing for bankruptcy, it comes as a major blow to distribution.
The 4 year drought in California also played a role in the decreasing participation, as 25% of all American snowboarders are located on the West Coast. The East Coast is similarly struggling this year, which many of you know is currently taking its toll on the sport.
While the halfpipe snowboarding battle between Iouri Podladtchikov and Shaun White had the highest ratings for NBC at the 2014 Sochi Games, online streaming of events has effected traditional television viewership which only seems like a problem for the networks but is mentioned in the article.
The last major point the article makes is that snowboarding has lost its outlaw edge that gave its participants a sense of rebellion in the early days. Snowboarders used to be banned from certain ski resorts and were stereotypically looked down upon by the traditional ski industry but now skiing has adopted much of the technology, style, and tricks that made snowboarding uniquely desirable.
“Freeskiing features many of the same tricks, on the same terrain, as snowboarding and grew by nearly a million participants from 2010-11 to 2014-15.”
Whether or not you give a hoot what some writer from the NYT has to say about the state of affairs in snowboarding is up to you. If you are inside the bubble it really doesn’t matter what some two-bit city slicker has to say but if you are interested in growing the sport I suggest you be supportive of beginners and environmentally responsible. These two things seem like a good recipe for the prosperity and longevity of the sport.