For Baby Boomers who don’t understand what Generation X or Generation Y see in the Summer X Games stuff, don’t worry: your offspring – all 106 million of them, in 121 countries will, via TV, watch the 2017 Summer X Games coming from Minneapolis and explain same to you.
X Games competitors and wannabees, however, sandwich some wonderful traits between the crusty edges of inventiveness and craziness. For example, in skateboarding kids looked to Tony Hawk’s and Mark Gonzales’s tricks, styles, and mannerisms. They’d try to emulate Tony Hawk’s 900. (But they’d better be prepared for a lot of persistence before meeting excellence. It took Tony Hawk “The Birdman” his 12th time to final successfully land the 900.) They’d try to copy the Gonz’s shoes. They’d assimilate and incorporate the masters’ moves into their routines. They’d extrapolate, synthesize, re-evaluate and - through these processes - come up with new stunts.
Alas, nowadays, given today’s stiff-as-a-board political correctness, they’d be accused of cultural appropriation to be sure, and possibly ageist appropriation too. Thus the X Games must be stopped! And all skateboarders younger than Hawk and Gonzales, who can be shown to have used elements of the former's in their skating – must undergo sensitivity training.
Ok, let’s forget such puerile politics for now (and hopefully for ever) and return to the virile characteristics of the X Games, generally.
Specifically, skateboarders are said to have been “shredding the vert ramp” Basically, they shred here, they shred there, indeed, the word shred has an even more altruistic purpose too, with the Shred Hate campaign to reduce bullying in American schools. Don’t know if bullying equals hate, and don’t know if 10 million kids are bullied each year in schools there, as the website page says, but their heart is in the right place even if their correlation and statistics are both a bit off...
It should be said: the X Games doesn't test athletes for drugs. This is probably just as well, despite it pissing off the likes of the World Anti-Doping Agency. 90% of these competitors gotta be high on something, or a cocktail of somethings, to even contemplate the stunts they do, let alone put them into practice. Or they could be high on life. It happens.
But let’s taunt WADA with a certifiable, undeniable fact. Didn’t Pierre-Luc Gagnon “PLG” admit after a heavy night partying, that lots of water and a few Excedrin can get him back on the skateboard? So let us have WADA scrutinize PLG’s NOLLIE HEELFLIP VARIAL INDY 540, why don’t we? Or have that body inspect Kevin Robinson’s pulling a Double Flair back in 2006 or study his world record ramp-to-ramp 84-foot backflip at the age of 44.
Actually the X Games and its athletes should be examined, not for foreign substances, but for unworldly creativity. For instance, who thought that some competitors would run their bikes brakeless? Moreover, have hockey, baseball, football, or basketball come up with any radical new wrinkles in the past few years?
Extreme sports has, at its core, the seed of imagination wherein whatever happened before can be grown upon, spreading a canopy of daredevilish deeds, more bold and brassy and outlandishly outrageous than ever before. Its trunk has rings, not of ages, but of new ways of doing things on skateboards, bikes, and motorcycles. (And gotta love the names for tricks, though we conventional old fogie types would scoff and sneer at the seemingly endless plethora of over-the-top monikers such as the Topside No-footed CanCan; One-handed 540; Switch-blade flip; Flare Double Whip; Downside Tail Whip...)
Speaking of whip or whippersnappers, what should we say about 50-year old + BMX rider Dennis McCoy? Simply that he is his sport’s equivalent to hockey’s ageless Jaromir Jagr. Didn’t he, smooth and dialed in, pull a 900 at the ripe old age of 49?
And what about Bob? Remember skateboarder Bob Burnquist’s 98 score in ‘99? When he did at least 4 moves the commentators either had not seen, or did not think were possible? And for us largely unfamiliar to X Games and skateboarding, but totally familiar with Olympic greatness and gymnastics, say – let’s equate Bob’s stunning run that X Games, to a stunning routine of the best male gymnast in the world, Kohei Uchimura.
One must quickly look at the downside of this sporting genre. Injuries can be numerous and mind numbingly severe. Let's admit it, some watch X games events for the wipeout factor, as do Indy 500 fans watching car races for crashes. Travis Pastrana once suffered a dislocated spine...18 broken bones...and had 8 surgeries – at a minimum! Can’t forget Jake Brown’s fall from 45 feet up, can we, resulting in a broken wrist, broken vertebrae, a bruised lung and liver, a concussion - and a ruptured spleen?
“Best Trick” has been a great spectacle but at the cost of serious injuries. Heck, even watching promo videos of skateboarders – with no helmet or other padding - gives one the willies. Because they are so amazing they’ll take the risk of crumbling onto pavement, tumbling down stairs, and going ass-over-teakettle over railings. But mistakes do happen: ever seen the video of Chris Joslin flying over 20 steps or so, only to tumble and roll over his tail-bone hard?
But pains and aches aside, it seems even these setbacks never stop each new X Games from getting better year after year, because every entrant knows the other will be bringing new and freaky-fabulous moves to the table. All will make this Summer X Games, coming up in Minneapolis this July, an extremely excellent exhibition of courage and character to view, where attitude meets amplitude, or put more simply – to be THE BEST SUMMER X GAMES YET.