The Death of Rollerblading
Posted by Bill Fuhrmann (May 27, 2011)I have also heard "over all skate sales are on the rise" years ago (he was discussing the divvying up of Salomon's market share between them and K2) from a Rollerblade "vice president". FYI: In marketing, there is title inflation because it sounds better if a person is a vice president rather than a regional manager.
The problem is that the information that is presented in such a negative way needs some spin from someone big enough in the industry that isn't starting with the fad numbers but shows the recent levels.
Does anyone out there have a good contact at Rollerblade that I can talk with about developing a story about the growth?
I have had a request passed on to someone there (via a vendor) but the person never replied.
We are not the largest sport anymore but we are not a sporting goods equivalent of the Furby either.
Unfortunately, the industry leaders seem content to allow the dying image to be what gets written about instead of promoting it as a growing sport.
Image is everything. If all that people see is information that the sport is dying, they are less inclined to take it up.
From: Trish Alexander
I do think it is on the rise, it will never be what it once was, but I think people will stay with it longer. Tough to say, but.. And you knew I would say it: I believe that with more instructors across the nation, we would see a direct correlation to a rise in numbers. Consider getting certified and build our numbers in this way. But, a nod of agreement to all of you who are always building, just in a different way.
F rom: Bill Fuhrmann
Unfortunately, we still need someone with access to the real numbers to put this in context.
It prominently says "Twenty-two million people strapped into the rigid skates with the single-file wheels at least once in the year 2000, five million more than played baseball. ----- By 2010 the number of in-line skaters had plummeted by 64 percent, the second-biggest drop in a sports or fitness activity in that span. " but does not disclaim that it happens that the start of the time period is about the peak of the fad stage of the sport.
Later in the article it also says "From 1987 to 1995, participation in in-line skating spiked 634 percent, according to SGMA, making it the fastest-growing sport in the U.S."
We need someone that has the industry numbers to show a more detailed look than 10 year snap shots that may not tell the full story.
What we want to know is:
What does the activity curve look like from 87 to the present so that we can see the spike of the fad and what the sport is doing currently for growth.
What is the difference between people who skate once a year or at least once per week?
Minnesota Inline Skate Club.
Inline Skating Instructors: [LS] "The Death of Rollerblading"
The death of Rollerblading: How in-line skating fell flat, and fast
By Rachel Bachman, The Oregonian (May 22, 2011)In the go-go days of the dial-up era, in-line skaters pulled on their Spandex shorts, powered up their Discmans and plied parkways nationwide. Twenty-two million people strapped into the rigid skates with the single-file wheels at least once in the year 2000, five million more than played baseball.
By 2010 the number of in-line skaters had plummeted by 64 percent, the second-biggest drop in a sports or fitness activity in that span. Only its cousin roller hockey fell further, 65 percent, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
What happened? No scandal befell Rollerblading, the proprietary eponym by which the sport is known. No celebrity lost a limb in the line of in-line skating. Nudged by various forces, it simply slowly went downhill.
"Just like quad outdoor skating, it rode a wave and the wave crested," said Howard Weiner, owner of Northwest Portland's iconic Cal Skate, which stopped selling in-line skates years ago. "And then the water retreated."
The concept was born in 1980, when former minor-league hockey player Scott Olson conceived of a wheeled skate that could help players and skiers train in the offseason. When Minnesota-based Rollerblade, Inc., began marketing to women and children as well, the trend exploded.
Overnight, it seemed, multitudes were circling the lakes in Minneapolis, careening through Midtown Manhattan traffic and wobbling along Portland's Waterfront Park. At one point in the early 1990s, Rollerblade stopped taking orders because it couldn't meet demand.
From 1987 to 1995, participation in in-line skating spiked 634 percent, according to SGMA, making it the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. Nike pounced on the craze in 1995, buying the parent company of hockey's Bauer brand.
But the market flooded with competitors, many making inferior imitations, said George Kolibaba, president of USA Rollersports and operations manager at the Oaks Park Skating Rink in Southeast Portland. Newcomers to in-line skating found other things to dislike, too.
Some found the skates stiff, heavy and difficult to stop, with just one brake at the heel rather than one on each toe like traditional "quad" roller-skates. In-line skating's injury rate is much lower than that in bicycling, for instance, but to some it feels less safe.
"I tried it before and I just feel like I have more control on quads," said 13-year-old Lilly Dow of Portland, in training for the resurgent sport of roller derby. "In in-line, you just feel like you're going way too fast."
The amateur videos of adults flailing on in-lines and teenagers falling astride stairway railings didn't help. Signs sprung up in plazas and around office buildings declaring: "NO ROLLERBLADING." In 2005, in-line absorbed a death knell: ejection from the X Games.
Manufacturing and quality-control issues dogged Nike's in-line efforts and demand flagged. The company sold Bauer in 2008 for $200 million, less than half what it had paid for it.
Todd Griswold said kids left the roller hockey leagues at his Indoor Goals sports arena in Beaverton and took up the next big thing -- lacrosse, whose participation surge of 218 percent over a decade makes it the fastest-growing team sport.
"It's a lot easier to grab a lacrosse stick and throw a ball against the wall than to get up on four (in-line) wheels," said Griswold, whose arena now hosts numerous teams.
Unlike parachute pants, however, in-line skating hasn't completely deflated. It retained eight million participants as of 2010, more than the seven million who skateboarded. Weiner of Cal Skate still gets calls from people "begging for help to find replacement parts" for in-line skates. He sends them to Oaks Park, one of the few places in the area that still rents them.
Five percent of the rink's rentals are in-lines, and Oaks Park recently bought a new batch of them, Kolibaba said. The rink retains a niche in roller speedskating and among hockey players who use rollerblades for their original purpose.
Among the masses, however, in-line skating seems as irrevocably dated as beepers and fax machines.
"It's just not cool," said Jim Dow, Lilly's dad. "You go on websites and people make fun of in-line skaters."
Said Benjamin Doyle, a 29-year-old quad-skate devotee who recalled cruising city streets in in-lines with his mom: "Everybody did stuff in the '90s we regret."
Oregon Live LLC: The death of Rollerblading: How in-line skating fell flat, and fast