Let me start off by saying I have a lot of respect for the Shaun Whites and the Tony Hawks of the world who can do ridiculous things with a skateboard/snowboard/whatever they’re using to pull off these stunts. But that’s all they are. Stunts. Tricks. Dare-devil acts that ESPN tries to cram down our throats as “sports” with events like the Winter and Summer X-Games. They’re not just sports to the big corporations looking to profit off of their popularity, they’re EXTREME sports. Give me a break.
Between the Winter and Summer X-Games, there are 32 current events and 19 that have been removed for one reason or another. I’ve picked out a few of my “favorites” (ie how the hell is this a sport?). The following are actual events, I’m not making this up:
Moto X Best Whip
Skier and Snowboard X (EDIT: removed this year)
Barefoot Waterski Jumping
Skateboard and BMX Vert Doubles
I googled best whip. I watched a couple of youtube videos. Still trying to figure out how the competition is judged. I did some more research and apparently they cancelled the Skateboard and BMX Vert Doubles because of all the injuries that occurred. I guess it was too extreme, but the rest of these past events are just ridiculous. Bungee jumping? How can someone “win” at bungee jumping? ESPN really needs to stop trying to legitimize these events.
I just watched some snowmobiling event where these guys go off a couple of ramps on their way down a hill and perform a few tricks on their run. One guy flew off his snowmobile and landed flat on his back after a 20 foot drop. Ouch! I call it a failed stunt and you’d think the judges would probably just give him a low score. He’s currently in 1st place.
Now injuries are common in sports, but every year I seem to hear about someone dying or becoming paralyzed in some type of X-Games related accident. I’m not trying to be insensitive, especially in light of the passing of extreme skier Sarah Burke, but something’s gotta give. In the days before the X-Games (which started in 1995) you had your Evel Knievels and Eddie Kidds jumping buses and pulling off death-defying stunts. What they did isn’t far off from what we’re seeing on ESPN every summer and winter. These extreme sports are dangerous and people are getting hurt. Excuse me for not wanting to see someone fall several stories in a failed stunt.https://web.archive.org/web/20150429080700if_/http://www.youtube.com/embed/BJ-rFIaJozQ?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent
It’s not just the absurdity of the events and the high level of danger that turn me off of the X-Games. I really can’t stand the branding/advertising that goes along with the whole event. Chris Lilley’s depiction of extreme sports in the series “Angry Boys” mocks contests like the X-Games and exposes them for what they really are- week long commercials trying to sell products to impressionable young kids. In the show, Tim Okazaki is a straight 16 year old Japanese-American professional skate boarder. In order to maximize his profitability, his mother Jen Okazaki decides that Tim’s career can be better promoted as not only a cute Japanese boy, but also as a homosexual. She manages to build a successful empire around Tim’s skateboarding success called, “GayStyle Enterprises”, in which she sells penis-shaped whistles, perfume dispensers, water bottles, and scrubbing brushes, not to mention Tim’s endorsement from Ooshi Cola.
It’s no different from what all the extreme athletes are peddling. Red Bull. Monster. Rock Star. If I’ve learned anything from the highlights on ESPN (I’ve never been able to sit through an entire X-Games broadcast) it’s if you’re going to do something extreme, you need to be hopped up on an energy drink. Think about it next time you crack open that can of Red Bull. Might as well be Ooshi Gay Cola.
So if you’re a fan of the X-Games, good for you. I’m not trying to tell anyone to change the channel or impose my will upon them, just don’t try to tell me it’s a legitimate sporting event. These modern day dare-devils do incredible things, but their ability to do a backflip on a snowmobile doesn’t make them an athlete. You can have your Monoski, Best Trick and Biggest Air, I’ll stick to basketball, football and the other team sports.