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3 Apr 2014

An Open Letter To Lee Coan

Today I'm going to write a letter to Lee Coan (the one on the left who isn't James May), the "Journalist" who wrote an article that was featured on the Telegraph's website today entitled "How old is too old to skateboard?"

old skateboarder jamie harrison back tail london street skating copyright 2013 scott madill
Old Man Harrison with a Back tail on the city streets


This week we have already seen teen girls told not to bother trying to skate, because it might hurt, by a "Journalist" at Marie Claire, the article has now had the offending section edited due to a public backlash.

We are also being treated to the Selfridges' conspicuous consumerism take on skateboarding with their tacky/tasteless and exploitative "Board Games"promotional event, that featured such exciting and ground breaking items as this for a measly £75 or this travesty of an object for a poultry £1000.  But I digress.

This post is all about my disappointment with Mr. Coan's article that I mentioned above.  Last night I got home from skating at Stockwell and my wife mentioned that she had read the article and suggested that I should not (as nothing good would come of it).  This is tantamount to putting me in front of a big red button marked "Do Not Push".

I heeded her advice, right up until this morning, when I noticed multiple friends posting a link to the article on Facebook, accompanied by some very strong reactions, and I cracked.

One big reason for my reading the article was the title "How old is too old to skateboard?"

This is a question I've asked myself in the past, more than once.  I've spent many ours and weeks looking into what sport, activity or hobby I can move to when my body finally says "no, that's it your done with skateboarding",  Martial arts, Cycling, and many more are currently in the running.  So for a serious newspaper like the Telegraph to dig deep into their pockets to hire a freelance journalist to investigate this problem that is close to my heart,  well it was obviously going to be a stellar piece of work.

Not so much.

What they did was, hire a guy who used to compile the Funny-news-stories/readers-letters section in lads magazine FHM.  Who apparently skated for a year when he was 11, hurt himself a little bit, as a result gave up and... well that's it.  This year of skating when he was eleven satisfied the editors at the Telegraph that he was the man for this exhaustive piece of investigative journalism.

Street Sherman defying his advancing years


The article seems to find it's genesis in the fact that a guy at his son's nursery happens to skate in his late 30's/early 40's.  

Coan swings incoherently from suggesting skateboarding is the greenest mode of "Transport", to equating older skaters to Gary Barlow singing Nirvana covers, to continually repeating his assertion that older skaters look "ridiculous" "is not a good look".  This all wrapped up in his singular viewpoint that everyone should stop skating when they are 11.  Because that's what he did.

His piece shares a number of characteristics with the Marie Claire article, that incensed women and girls across the country and beyond, one is the sheer number of, what my friend Kev referred to as, "Clangers" that are present on both.  The sign off paragraph being the most obvious.  Here it is:

"So by all means skateboard, just know that you look ridiculous, and remember that you'll probably end up at some point sobbing in a some filthy A&E department."

How much did the Telegraph pay this idiot to dispense such incisive advice?  It was definitely too much.

Maybe Coan regrets not persevering with skateboarding.  Maybe when he tells his son "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" a wave of shame and regret washes over him as he realises that's what he should have done to get the most out of skateboarding.  Maybe it's that deep sense of self loathing that drove him to write this hate ridden piece of tosh. I'm sure we will never know.

What I do know is what I want to say to Mr. Coan in my open letter to him. Here goes.

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Dear Mr. Coan,

I couldn't care less about your opinion on this subject. Please stop.

Yours sincerely,

[LIALC]

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