Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Journal of Sport and Social Issues

Publication Date



Advance publication

First Page


Last Page



Sage Publications


Skateboarding, Edgework, Hong Kong, Helmets, Control


Skateboarding has a global reach and will be included for the first time in the 2020 Olympic Games. It has transformed from a subcultural pursuit to a mainstream and popular sport. This research looks at some of the challenges posed by the opening of a new skatepark in Hong Kong and the introduction of a mandatory helmet rule. It explores attitudes to helmets in skateboard media, the local government, and among the skateboarders who use the new skatepark. It argues that helmet use is not only an issue of safety but also an issue of control. From the skateboarders’ perspective, it is about participant control over their sport, and from a government perspective, it is about accountability. The contrast between the two approaches is explored through the concepts of edgework and audit culture. As skateboarding continues to become a mainstream sporting activity, such issues of control will prove to be more relevant and must be negotiated in partnership. The growth in new skateparks, many of which are concrete, underlines the need for this discussion. It is argued that helmet use will continue to be a site of conflict as skateboarding becomes further incorporated into a mainstream sport, and that how helmets are represented in skateboarding will come to indicate who has control over the sport.



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Copyright © The Author(s) 2016

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Recommended Citation

O'Connor, P. (2016). Skateboarding, helmets, and control: Observations from skateboard media and a Hong Kong skatepark. Journal of Sport & Social Issues. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0193723516673408