X-Games 15: Is There Any Growing Interest?

Danny Way X Games

With the conclusion of the X-Games 15 on Sunday, it feels like extreme sports have reached their peak as far as a national audience goes. The X-games are the most popular nationally recognized event for the action sports industry, but it doesn’t seem to be growing or competing with America’s sports (baseball, basketball or football). It’s fun to watch these individuals go all out throwing their bodies around to pull out some amazing tricks, but I always wonder why it never quite catches on the way our “national” sports have. There are a few factors keep these sports under the radar compared to the team sports that everybody watches. It’s tough for a sport that is ultimately about style and individuality to compete with the mainstream sports. Since it is so subjective in judging, there is a feeling after many contests that there could have been a different winner. When compared to the individual sports of the Olympics, tennis, and golf, it’s easy to see why they aren’t as popular on the national level, since it’s much harder to sustain an audience that cares about all the athletes involved. Most of these action sports are played on a fun/recreational level by just as many people as team sports, so why aren’t they as popular?

Is it individual sport versus a team sport? This has to be part of it. Just like golf has Tiger and the swimming has Michael Phelps the extreme sports world has their own mainstays in the upper echelon like skateboarders Danny Way and Tony Hawk, Dirt bike and Rally car driver Travis Pastrana and Rickey Carmichael, surfing’s Kelly Slater, and BMX riders Dave Mirra and Matt Hoffman.Kelly Slater Most casual fans that follow any of these sports can tell you how good those top three or four guys are or who the Michael Jordan of that sport is, but if probed further they probably couldn’t tell you much of anything about the rest of the field. For a team sport, you most likely know the key guys on your team, and follow them throughout a season learning more about the “new guys” as you go. It naturally makes you feel closer to a given player when you see them on a regular basis, and can get behind them on a (us vs. the league basis). There’s also the feeling of representing your city or nearby city. In the action sports industry, the only time you would hear about most of the participants in the X-Games is in videos sold at board shops, magazines, or on Fuel TV. There isn’t as much of a city affiliation except their favorite spots to rip, unless that athlete happens to come from your area. The accessibility to the action sports athletes is far less, which makes it harder for the general population to get behind these athletes since they don’t feel as connected to them.Nate Adams It’s just like golf, as you watch a tournament and don’t see Tiger or Phil at the top of the leader board, then you probably won’t be as interested in watching the rest of the event. Same thing goes for some of the X-Games events as the general public rarely knows any of the contestants are so why would they keep watching after they’ve seen a few of them do the most difficult new tricks already.

The clarity of an obvious winner and loser are easy in the timed events, but the scoring by judges it often turns into a popularity contest. In the X-Games new skateboarding contest this year, “The Rail Jam”, Danny Way did a switch 50-50 across the rail, and emerged as the champion. I’m not discounting anything he did, but I can’t help but think that the judges gave him that win because he had an injured knee and ankle that caused him to hobble through the contest. There were a couple of other tricks that I (a former skateboarder) personally deemed much more difficult than Way’s trick. It didn’t feel like there was a clear cut winner or loser in a bunch events, which made it hard for me to feel satisfied at the end of a contest. In the end, it truly feels like these guys aren’t really trying to win. They do want to land the tricks that they are trying, but they are doing it more just to progress the sport. This is the aspect I’m most confused on. The action sports industry is all about learing the moves, and creating your own style through those moves, so a lot of the events are more of a specticle than a contest. I’m definately not saying that they should be a show like Disney on Ice, but most of these sports are an art, and like most art forms we may never truly understand them! This is why it will never be as popular as our national team sports.

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About chappy81

I'm a dude that just hit 30 years old. Pretty much like everything that is funny, insightful, and has to do with the Warriors, A's, and Raiders. View all posts by chappy81

8 responses to “X-Games 15: Is There Any Growing Interest?

  • Alan Parkins

    Chappy
    Given that guys like Bubba Stewart , Reed and other from Moto X have shown interest there. I think that this thing’ll explode. And bear in mind that this has now come a long way from the days of Tony Hawk his peers from that era.

    It’s a worldwide phenomenon that within the next few years may well even gain Olympic recognition in some of the disciplines. As it is BMX biking and snowboarding is now an Olympic sport. There’s no reason to believe that these others won’t become part of that. Given time it’ll be accepted by the IOC.

    Alan Parkins

  • chappy81

    Valid point! I just don’t feel that having these sports in the olympics makes that big a difference. Maybe they’re more recognized on a worldly stage, but not so much within the states…

  • Alan Parkins

    Chappy81

    With the sort of money that can now be made both in and outside the sport by way of endorsements. The sport will boom. How can you explain the fact that the audience for the X Games when it’s broadcast on network television is greater than that of a Fox televised baseball game ?

    And the same can be said when ESPN chooses to broadcast at an amenable time on its programming schedule. And not at an ungodly time after 12am.

    Alan Parkins

  • Alan Parkins

    Chappy81

    Olympic snowboard and vert specialist now earns in excess of $2.5m a year and that includes prize money and endorsements. Not only that he’s now got his own line of clothing apparel , boards and video games coming out. So don’t think that for one minute there’s not a niche market being created.

    Alan Parkins

  • Alan Parkins

    Chappy

    Here’s a link to my most recent piece. In order to view just click on either of the links shown.

    http://americansportsblog.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/weekend-sports-update/

    Weekend Sports Update ………..

    As and when you’re ready I’ll look forward to reading your comments.

    Alan Parkins

  • chappy81

    I see what you’re getting at. I don’t doubt that they are growing financially and globally. I work for Quiksilver and we give Slater about a million a year… Hell, we own DC and gave Big Black a half a million for the show Rob & Big. I’m still a believer that there are more people playing the sports than watching them. I can’t say the same for football, baseball, and basketball. Most of people in the general population used to play these major sports, but no longer do… The action sports people do the sport, but aren’t as into who’s winning what event. It’s going to be tough for them to compete with the big three at a professional level…

  • Alan Parkins

    Chappy

    Given the fact that the X Games is now raising its profile as to tv coverage. And the mere fact that as the US goes . Then Europe and elsewhere is bound to follow. One can see that it has yet to reach its zenith.

    If it receives the blessing of the IOC as an exhibition event in some of the disciplines. Then you can expect an immense boom to follow. And if you’re already involved from a business standpoint. Then there’ll be an immense amount of money to be made. It’s a given !

    I can’t help but wonder what that’ll do to the likes of such Olympic events as rhythmic gymnastics , fencing , lawn green bowling that are said to be on the wane ?

    The Olympics for me in terms of my heightened interest would be greater if we also had the strippers’ pole dancing competition . Female jello wrestling , singles as well as doubles. LOL, LOL , LOL !! But that’s just me !

    If there’s money to be made from something that at first was purely recreational and now has become a big time competitive endeavor. Then you can bet that there’ll be others who’ll follow. Wait and see if they don’t try to get MMA into the Olympics as an exhibition event.

    Alan Parkins

  • Alan Parkins

    Dropped this piece on the woeful Knicks. Should you at all be interested ? Click on
    either of the links shown below to view.

    http://thebasketballoracle.com/2009/08/04/like-water-for-chocolate/

    Like Water For Chocolate ……

    As and when you’re ready I’ll look forward to reading your comments.

    Alan Parkins

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