If there’s one thing Chicago does well, it’s roller skating! Every day on social media, there are those who recall the heyday of the best skating rinks around. 

As a teen I went to the Norridge skating rink. As an adult, I went to Rainbow Skating Rink. So it was very wonderful to hear about the roller rink they opened off Pulaski and Madison. No, it’s not an independent building with an indoor rink but rather an outdoor apparatus placed on a previously empty lot. As I watched the news report, the police commander said it is also a safe space. They host movies there at night and the children are flocking. The citizens of Chicago should demand of every person who breathes air on Earth, that this spot remain a safe space. Our children deserve it! 

I took delight in watching all the different levels of skating occurring within the rink. From amateur to pro, people took their spin around the rink. I’m going to admit, my heart went out to all the young children for whom this was the first time they ever had the opportunity to rollerskate. What for some of us is a fond memory of the past has been missing from a lot of these children’s lives. They are now getting that opportunity and we need to make sure it continues!

While we’re enjoying the beauty that is roller-skating, let’s begin a campaign to make roller-skating an Olympic sport! Somewhere on the West Side of Chicago — or to be fair, within the city limits — there is a GOAT who will put on a pair of skates and do things nobody thinks is possible. I have seen skating routines where it looked like they were gliding on air. But unlike ice skating which requires specialty rinks, roller rinks are a lot easier to create. If you’ve got a smooth surface, even the streets can serve that purpose. I recall street skating was a phenomenon in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Men would glide down the street, carrying huge boom boxes while roller-skating. I can’t say why, but it ceased.

Ice skating has long dominated the sports world for the Olympics. And ice skating is, for the most part, a cold weather sport. So those who participate in it are a very limited group. But roller skating … that is where Black folks show up and show off! A campaign to get roller-skating certified as an Olympic sport can be a unifying opportunity. When was the last time you heard of our young people even thinking of attempting a sport that could take them to the Olympics? It is rare. Gymnastics is wonderful, but it is extremely costly. With roller-skating, people can perfect their skills literally at home.

Prior to writing this column, I did Google to see why roller-skating is not an Olympic sport. All the responses I saw seemed very trite. To sum it up, there’s been no concerted effort to push for it. So let Chicago be the first on the map to get it started. Chicago already has a “Bike the Drive Day.” Why not add roller-skating too? 

Let’s see how the politicians and those in charge refute the idea of allowing roller-skating as an Olympic event when there are hundreds of thousands of young people carrying signs demanding it?

Arlene Jones writes a weekly column for our sister publication, the Austin Weekly News.

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