Hoopers: The Dying Breed


A Hooper in the Mermaid Parade 6 years ago in 2008
                                A Hooper in the Mermaid Parade in 2008

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As hundreds more hop into the hoop everyday, even more hoopers are casting out the community they once loved.

In the past few years, hooping has sky-rocketed, but is this community crashing down to earth? Many think so.

At the start of many adventures into Hoop-Land, people felt grounded, accomplished, loved and confident. They might not have known many other people like them, but they felt at home and loved by their peers. The pure joy of hooping is a drug many find a strong addiction to. However, enjoy this while you can. This community is already changing.

Competition Inevitable

competition

The rise of sponsorships, the rivalry of small businesses, and the arms race for performance slots all jumble together. It is transforming the beauty of hoop land into (dare I say) almost a competitive war-zone. While some hoopers might not be affected by the latest sponsorship failure or financial struggle of their hoop-class, many are. The support and love which once seeped from the hoop community like syrup from a maple tree, is now transitioning into rude remarks and petty disputes.



To say every individual hooper is changing is not only wrong, but blasphemous. At the same time, there's no doubt that the community many hoopers once respected and appreciated is shaping into a cacophony of drama and disagreements.

To dig deeper and find out why on earth the community is getting to this point, let's look at something else that mirrors hooping (which is a bit more well-known):

Skateboarding

skateboarding

You might think it's rather different, but they're quite similar. Skateboarding was popularized not long ago; and was done for the sheer passionate effect it had on it's riders. While skateboarding and hooping have distinct differences, the counter-culture is quite similar.

In 1963, the skateboard's popularity spiked, and then suddenly died out; like the latest fad. Around the same time, hula hooping was also the latest toy, but like the skateboard, it's popularity declined as well.

However, in the 70's, skateboarding was resurrected with newer skateboards being built and manufactured. The life of a skateboard in 1975 mirrors the hoop in 2014. The latest customizable hoops are being created, sponsorships are becoming real opportunities, and very few lucky hoopers can make their passion into a professional income.



With all this growth on the horizon, why would someone think hoopers are a dying breed?

History repeats itself. Although skate companies and pro skateboarders existed during the 70s and 80s, the scene died out again. Why? That's a tough call. But a study from the university of Pennsylvanian suggests the faster things popularize, the more likely they are to die out.

You cannot have thousands and thousands of hoopers in one community and all coexist peacefully. There is not enough structure for so many new styles. It's a logical prediction that hooping can (and will) die out within the next four to five years.

There is Hope

Perhaps it may be for the better that this community will crash. When skateboarding made it's comeback in the early 90s, it's subgenres became more defined; flatland, vert, freestyle and park. Perhaps hooping will do the same. With mainstream skaters becoming more aware of these various areas, the skate-community as a whole become stronger. It generates 4.8 billion dollars in revenue and might be made into the next Olympic sport.

At the same, there are traditional skateboarders (like traditional hoopers) who feel nostalgic towards the underground days; before skating had limits and laws. Many find that the old intentions of skateboarding has been lost among the masses. It's possible to feel the same way towards hooping.

So to you, my hooping brothers and sisters, enjoy this. Enjoy the time of the hoop where there are not yet laws or boundaries, because they are being created. Even now as you read this, the time is drawing closer and closer where hooping will reach a climactic reform. To the traditional hoopers who flow with freedom, grace, and no limits; you are a dying breed. Keep this community in your heart. Remember the feelings you had when you first embarked on your journey. Many that follow you will not have that feeling.