Deseret News Archives

We commend the Salt Lake Valley Board of Health for its willingness to revisit the issue of backyard skateboard ramps. When the ban against the ramps was enacted in August, skaters filed their grievances with the board. To its credit, it took them seriously.

Some of the arguments voiced by skaters made sense. For instance, why were skateboard ramps prohibited because of noise and such when basketball courts, tennis courts and swimming pools were allowed? Were people prejudiced against skaters and snowboarders? Weren't those activities Olympic sports, too — same as swimming and basketball?

When it comes to participatory sports, America is in transition. And many citizens are getting caught in the flux. "Non-ball" sports used to call up images of hiking, wrestling, swimming and running. Today, "gravity sports" have taken over much of that arena. Hang-gliding, snowboarding and rappelling have become legitimate alternatives to the old "team games."

There is also an irony to the banning of backyard skate ramps. People see skaters on the streets performing their stunts and wish they'd go home. When they go home, the neighbors try to force them back onto the streets.

Yes, some skaters are scofflaws who are discourteous and even dangerous. But then, some motorists, bicyclists and basketball players also are discourteous.

Still, many people — especially of a certain generation — see a skateboarder and immediately think "slacker." Would they lump all basketball players into the "annoying" category just because a few misbehave?

Probably not.

So, the Board of Health is going to take another look at allowing skate ramps on private property. The arguments for justice made sense and the people who make the rules are willing to rethink their thinking.

Good for them.

And if things get rowdy around the backyard ramps, neighbors will always have the same recourse they have when a neighborhood basketball game, a game of croquet or a pool party gets too loud.

They can politely ask the participants if they would please tone it down. If they refuse, that's why we have peace officers — to maintain the peace.