Handrails, steps and curbs : sacred places and secular pilgrimage in skateboarding

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics

Publication Date



Advance online publication




This paper argues that significant places in the sport of skateboarding are banal urban spaces. These locations are made meaningful through interaction, history and media coverage. This has resulted in the emotional attachment and veneration of places that are overlooked by the general public. Building on cultural geography and the literature on pilgrimage, an analysis of sacred space and secular pilgrimage is presented. Skateboarders are shown to be deeply engaged with places that have been inscribed with historic meaning. Media is shown to be instrumental in making and communicating the importance of skateboarding ‘spots’. Through textual analysis and ethnographic work a distinction is made on the importance of space. Skateboarders are shown to perform secular pilgrimages, and to be emotionally invested in the history of particular sites. Skateboarding, unlike other sports, privileges places that are not legitimate sporting locations. The stadiums of skateboarders are urban settings, handrails, curbs and steps.



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Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

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Recommended Citation

O’Connor, P. (2017). Handrails, steps and curbs: Sacred places and secular pilgrimage in skateboarding. Sport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/17430437.2017.1390567