Since the early 90s people have either called what we doing inline skating , or rollerblading. Throughout those years you had your purists who always say rollerblade is a company, inline skating is what we do. I personally call it rollerblading, I’ve noticed that almost anyone I talk to about what I do has no idea what I am talking about if I say “I inline skate”, they usually say “what” or just pretend like I they know what I’m talking about or just assume I skateboard since I used the word skate in the description. When I go on to further explain that inline skating is rollerblading, then they fully understand what I’m talking about. I feel like the general non skating population knows what we do as rollerblading and that’s it.I asked the following question to icons of the industry for their thoughts on the matter:
“What is your take on inline skating vs rollerblading. What do you call our sport? Does it really matter what people call it? If so why?”
Tom Hyser (Product and Marketing Manager at Rollerblade, Inc. – Huntsville, AL, USA)
Rollerblade is a brand name. We are considered the founders of the sport. We call it inline skating, skating or blading.
Oli Benet (co-owner of Roex Skate Shop – Barcelona, Spain)
As far as my understanding goes, for the most part we have always been known as “rollerbladers” – Prayer of the Rollerboys, Brink “Whatever brah, enough talking lets blade” – We OWN the term Rollerbladers, we have earned it.
Eugen Enin (professional skater for Powerslide, USD – Borken, Germany)
When I was younger we simply called it blading. So only with a small relation to rollerblade. But yes, I avoid the term inline skating for aggro since people directly imagine fitness skating, fsk or speed… The term skating works well too but you have to explain that you’re doing that Skate stuff on your Blades. For my circle of homies We usually use “blading” the most and “skating” very often too.
Geoff Acres (Sunshine Distribution – San Diego, CA, USA)
It doesn’t matter what it’s called. I’ll continue to blade/skate/inline/fruitboot because I enjoy the activity. Do I feel the need to thoroughly explain what I do to everyone who asks? Nah. My friends and family understand and that’s enough for me. For those who don’t know enough, googling any of the usual terms is going to bring up all kinds of good and bad. I find using the term ‘rollerblading’ helps shorten any explanation and gets me back on with my day.
Chris Farmer (professional skater for Powerslide, USD, Vibralux, Intuition Skate Shop, Themgoods, The Youth Co, BladerGang, Dead Wheels – Minneapolis, MN, USA)
Growing up in Minnesota, it has always been referred to as rollerblading, for as long as i can remember. With Rollerblade being established in the early 80’s by the Olson brothers, it’s kind of hard to shake the term that’s been so heavily embedded for decades. I personally identify as a rollerblader, but do I have any qualms with any of the other terms? Not at all… Do I in-line skate? Yes. Do I aggressive in-line skate? Sure do. Do I blade? Absolutely. To each their own, whatever floats your boat.
Sukeats Chee (owner Wheel Love Skateshop – Kuala Lampur, Malaysia)
I call it blading or rollerblading. It gets the message across the quickest without having to explain too much. But the term inline skating is quite common over here. In Malay (the national language here) people who inline skate are called Pemain Inline or Inline players. So the term is quite familiar over here. Also the Rollerblade brand isn’t very strong over here, so the whole trademark issue isn’t known to most people. I don’t think it matters what people call it. They can sue and make as many statements as they want, people will call it Xerox, Panadol and Pampers. But from a business standpoint they have to do what they have to do I guess.
Gabe Holm (owner of Thuro Skateshop – Boston, MA, USA)
I don’t think it matters what you call it but like to use inline skating because it has a more positive reaction
Jake Eley (owner of Go Project – Brighton, England)
Good question! Personally I’d say it doesn’t matter. The reason I call rollerblading rollerblading is because the general public can relate to it. It was an active decision to call them rollerblades on our website… a google SEO decision if anything.
I think rollerblade asked us to change it at one stage. I’m not sure why that’s been such a sore point over the years because in my mind it would benefit them as a company if anything. I think ultimately you have to go with what the people decide, and in this case it was ‘rollerblading’
I think I really like the term ‘blading’ though. It sounds kind of kitch and nineties. In England ‘blader’ was a term used by BMXers and skateboarders, usually when they were being hostile. I like the idea of taking it back though and making it our own.
The first line of Go a Project bearings had ‘Go Rollerblading’ written on the shields. I changed that to Go Blading on the second run because, in that case, it DID feel like it was encroaching on Rollerblade’s brand (because Go Project is also a manufacturer).
Eric Kraan (owner of The SkateNow Shop – Salt Lake City, UT, USA)
I use skating, but I don’t mind people using rollerblading, inlining, blading, or fruitbooting. As long as they get on skates I am happy.
Yes, skateboarders walk into my shop all the time thinking I’m a skateboard shop, but also ice figure skaters and hockey players do. So some confusion is bound to happen with skate or skating. That said, I don’t want to be pinned down to one type of skating. Which is why I fell in love with the Organic Blading movement Cameron Card was promoting a couple of years ago. Skating back to its roots, instead of being about one of the branches. We are all brothers, we are all skaters.
Mathias von Gostømski (Filmmaker / Photographer / Skater – Barcelona, Spain)
I call it rollerblading or blading, not really inline skating, maybe in an ironic, sarcastic kind of way with my blade friends, like with a lil gay voice. Between friends we say “lets go skate” or “lets go blade”. To explain ourselves to strangers I use rollerblading or (depending on if I want to give the rollerblading aspect right away or not) otherwise I would just say “I skate,” most of the time that is enough. Then there is always German language/friends, but it goes mostly the same… blading, skate, skates, rollerblades…
Nick Lomax (Powerslide Team Skater – Barcelona, Spain)
Call it what you want to! If you are having fun doing it, then who cares!
Constantine Feinberg (owner of ProSkaters Place – Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Our take on this is that this sport was always called Rollerblading as it is basically a blade like to ice but built of rollers a.k.a. wheels. That was true until a company Rollerblade has been established. They have basically monopolized the name rollerblades, so all the rest of the manufacturers have started to use a name inline skates to distinguish themselves from Rollerblade and to avoid promoting it by using the word rollerblades. That is basically a matter of keywords used for an internet search.
Nowadays many people in North America are using words rollerblading and inline skating. Usually, people that have been skating 15-20 year ago would still know only the word rollerblading though. Many skaters are using the names of the skating style such as Aggressive skating, Powerskating, Powerblading, Freeskating, Slides, Freestyle skating etc…
Ben Price (Chicago, IL, USA)
That particular gap is a strange sort of Catch-22, maybe, because the non-inline-skating world all recognizes it as “rollerblading” (lowercase “r”), while the inline skating world recognizes Rollerblade as a distinct brand (one that most people have had direct experiences with, and have feelings about) and insists on “inline skating.” So that in the end, using the “correct” term kind of re-insulates us, and saying “inline skating” is probably a bit of a marker that a person doesn’t deal with non-inline-skaters much, while only saying “rollerblade” might show the opposite.
“Inline skating” sounds way clunky. I think of Rollerblade when I say “rollerblade,” nowadays, so that doesn’t really work for me. I hate “blading” because it sounds too much like it’s trying to be cool by fake-associating with knives. I dunno. I prefer just “skating,” and letting people start out with a positive concept of me.
I guess my take on it is kind of “just don’t call me late for dinner” – people can call it whatever they want, as long as they’re calling it something, and hopefully eventually it’ll get sorted out. Go far enough back though, and I think the “skating” term belongs way more to us than to board sports.
I don’t think of skating as a sport though. It can be turned into a various sports, it can be done as an art, but I don’t think many of us are doing those things with it. I think it’s more like sex or drugs, probably – something compulsive. But more productive than drugs and more individualistic than sex.
I think the big wheels thing is interesting because we’re kind of going back to where we started, but we’re now way better skaters but also now no one is really paying much attention to us (including ourselves – we’re not judging each other as much as we used to). It’s strange because I worry that I’m skating like somebody I’d have hated 10 years ago, but I’m really just addicted to the feeling of skating. Particularly because, now that I’ve learned better how to actually skate, I think it’s lowkey maybe the most beautiful ways to move – the process of turning gravity into forward momentum, and the need to have a whole lot of strength but to apply it extremely gingerly, and the invisibility of how the momentum gets created, and skating’s ability to make even the best skaters on earth look goofy constantly, is amazing to me. And, I kind of hope that if aggressive skating has a future, it’s in a hybrid form of skating that involves a LOT more speed and grace, something that looks a lot less like skateboarding – which probably means something on bigger wheels.
Frank Stoner (Columnist at Be-Mag – Denver, CO, USA)
First, I’d take issue with it being called a ‘sport.’ We don’t have a league, we don’t have a discernible professional class, and we absolutely don’t have an institutionalized pathway established to advance from novice to amateur to pro. We also lack a fan base outside of ourselves and our spouses–which is a critical dimension of what sport is. We’re a community or a culture (almost certainly a sub-culture, but that’s another issue entirely) and I think too many people mistake the athleticism of our culture for sport–which I think doesn’t require much scrutiny once you stop and interrogate it for a minute or two.
Graffiti artists climb up all sorts of gnarly shit to paint their pieces… doesn’t make them climbers, and it certainly doesn’t make graffiti a sport. The athleticism of our activity is no less incidental to our culture. It’s just a part of who we are and what we do.
As far as the name, I think most of the other people who have commented here have pretty well nailed it. It’s rollerblading. If you want to see ALL the mumbo jumbo I have to say about our syncretical and non-syncretical polyonymy, pick up a copy of Be-Mag #42.
One thing I will add, though, is that I have all the respect in the world for both the Rollerblade Brand and Tom Hyser himself. Rollerblade is the only company to have put out a stunt model every single year since the TRS, and Hyser is, essentially, the only one of our forefathers who hasn’t left us like bastard and broken sons to fend for ourselves. Hyser is a legend and a good man, but nobody owns language, and nobody gets to control what its users do with it. I love you, Tom, and I love everything you’ve done for our culture and for your brand, but you can’t stop the will of the people.
For my part, I say “I am a rollerblader” and I call our culture “rollerblading” because too many people in my generation were too closely allied with skateboardering and too many people from my era acted like “closeted” rollerbladers. I’m not ashamed of the label and I never have been. I wear it as a badge of honor and I consider it part of my actual identity. I expect that most of us who’ve stuck with it this far feel similarly.