Like an aging television network, the Berrics, Eric Koston and Steve Berra’s skatepark-turned-media-factory, is still kicking. I don’t even know if that comparison is apt – I really have no idea what is going on with TV networks. Their shows probably still get the most viewership over subscription on demand services. I don’t have those stats and I’m not going to look them up, so beats me. I’m also not sure what the Berric’s stats are – maybe they garner the most views as well, but I’m also not going to do that research. Point is, TV Networks and the Berrics feel clunky and not super relevant in the same way, at least amongst my peers. Yelling “Do a kickflip!” out a car window at somebody is just as obnoxious if it’s coming from a skateboarder as not. Historically, the only thing that I liked from the Berrics is their “Off the Grid” series, which is a simple idea and features the park solely in the intro. But probably the Berrics’ most popular production is the Battle at the Berrics.
I’ve never really minded the BATB. It was good for cherry-picking skaters I like and watching them throw a couple of flip tricks around. Once freed from its bloated pre-match packaging, some enjoyable and spontaneous skating can crop up – like the Chris Cole vs. Dennis Busenitz marathon, a match I actually revisit from time to time. Not to mention some lo-fi production techniques: unlike other Berrics programming, its filmed as if a camera with a servo zoom was handed to a random spectator and they occasionally rotate the hosts and refs. All of which helped in immediately piquing my interest when the Women’s Battle at the Berrics popped up in my YouTube subscriptions a couple weeks ago.
Speaking anecdotally because, as is my wont, I haven’t done any actual research about this, many of my peers seem to have the same apathy towards WBATB in the way one might towards any Berrics programming. It’s not quite the same, though, because woman haven’t had the opportunity to have had eleven previous editions to be apathetic towards. This is the first and there will be more, hopefully, in a landscape where its increasingly easier and easier to find skaters who don’t look like me. After following the #whoisinwbatb hashtag while it was going on, I learned about a ton of women who were hoping to get involved. I saw that Adrianne Sobloh, a personal favorite and one of the few women skaters I knew already, was in the first round against Margie Didal from the Philippines, someone I hadn’t heard of before. I clicked and watched their “Head to Head” intro video – not the type of video I would have watched before. But it did it’s job. .I wanted to know more about Margie Didal and after that intro I popped her name in the search box. Of course, she rips. Of course, she’s been in Street League. This is stuff I would know had I been paying any kind of attention.
Pointing a radar gun at skaters to create an empirical parameter for what they’re doing is stupid. That’s a stupid way to use a platform inexplicably built on the strength of a couple legendary names. Instead, using that platform to prop up women in skateboarding – a group that has been offered a sliver of the amount of opportunity that men have – is smart. High-minded and in-the-spotlight skaters like Mark Suciu, a seemingly good person and total ripper who happened to go to college and made a sort of palindrome out of his career and latest part while also referencing latin literary terms in an attempt to let us know – well I don’t know what – that he reads? That life is cyclical? That what goes up must come down, what goes around comes back around? At its core, it shows that maybe he thinks about the skateboarding he’s doing. Taking this further, let’s think about what we can do with skateboarding. The Women’s Battle at the Berrics is doing a lot – finally – and elevates it to the most relevant thing The Berrics has done and one of the most relevant skateboarding things on the internet now.