From self-expression to competition? The sportification of Norwegian skateboarding

In Norwegian

Anne Tjønndal
Nord University, Norway
Arve Hjelseth
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway
Verena Lenneis
Aalborg University, Denmark


Skateboarding has gained increasing popularity in Norway and Northern Europe. With increasing popularity, the traditions and identities traditionally associated with skateboarding are challenged. In this article, we utilize Guttmann’s seven characteristics of modern sport to discuss the ongoing sportification process of skateboarding. Empirically, the article builds on the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympic program for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games, and explores how this event has caused increased bureaucratization of skateboarding in Norway. Methodologically, the paper is based on a qualitative content analysis of 25 texts, strategically chosen to examine the development of skateboarding in Norway since the 1970s. The analysis demonstrates how skateboarding has gone from being an alternative youth culture, to becoming an illegal activity (1978-1989), to being subjected to large commercialized events such as the X-Games and the Olympics. Furthermore, we illustrate how the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics has brought substantial changes for Norwegian skateboarding, including new organizational models through the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF), and the establishment of Norway’s first national skateboarding team. Lastly, the article points to how the sportification of skateboarding creates a divide between skateboarders, between those who accept the sportification processes and those who reject it.

Click here to read this peer reviewed article in Norwegian, in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum Vol. 10, 2019

About the authors

ANNE TJØNNDAL (PhD sociology) is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Social Science, Nord university, campus Bodø. Tjønndal teaches qualitative and quantitative research methods at a bachelor, masters and PhD level. Her research interests are broadly categorized in two topics: (1) sport, gender and social inclusion/exclusion, and (2) innovation, technology and alternative futures of sport.

ARVE HJELSETH is an Associate Professor in the sociology of sport at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. He gained his doctorate from the University of Bergen in 2006 on a thesis about the commercialization of Norwegian football. Research interests include sport specatators and sport fans as well as various aspects of sportization processes and the impact of economic logics in the field of sport.

VERENA LENNEIS is a sport sociologist and works as an Assistant Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark. Her research interests include gender and sports, ethnic minorities’ sports participation, and lifestyle sports. She has played the lifestyle sport of footbag freestyle for many years.

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