photo: tcm-gaming

future “athletes” / photo: tcm-gaming

BREAKING NEWS: the X Games are including Call of Duty in this year’s events. Really.

But think about it for just a second. Duh. Of COURSE they’re including video games. It all makes sense. What is skateboarding anyway but merchandising? The entire economy of skateboarding is endorsement deals and branded product. The industry perennially freaks about blank boards because blank boards aren’t branded. They aren’t targeted at an audience. They just are.

The X Games are also merchandising. Whether it’s awful video games (think I forgot about you like everyone else did, X Games Skateboarding?), finger boards or X-treme children’s clothing, the X Games is a great big advertisement, disguised as “action sports.”

Skateboarding is as popular as ever, so where do they go next? They already race big-ass trucks and do motorcycle jumps that make Evel Knievel look like a big dumb baby. The next step in X-treme can’t be judged on difficulty or life-risking-itude. Why not simulated war?

”Skateboarding is as popular as ever, so where do they go next?…Why not simulated war?”

They won’t put parkour or freerunning or whatever they call it now in there – skateboarders, in their infinite wisdom and intelligence would say, “that’s gay” and skip it. They won’t bring back rollerblading (sorry, “aggressive inline”) because… well, re-read the first sentence in this paragraph. Scootering? Not a chance in hell. Soap Shoes? Do kids today even remember those? But skateboarders, BMXers, moto-crossers, canyon-jumpers and pretty much everyone else is down with Call of Duty.

(An aside: when I was a little kid, we called poop “doody,” so the phrase “Call of Duty” always makes me giggle.)

photo courtesy of espn & x-games

photo courtesy of espn & x games

When you brand yourself as the center of all things X-treme, you paint yourself into a corner. X-treme is a relative term. Skateboarding is X-treme because in the 1990s, Kids was a lot of peoples’ reference point. If they saw Thrashin’ or Gleaming the Cube, they still saw gang fights and some wicked X-treme stunts people just don’t do in football, baseball or most other sports as key plot points. Skateboarding was the punk kids getting into trouble. That’s not the case any more.

Skateboarding is sanitized and ready for primetime. So what’s the next level of X-treme? I’m honestly surprised they haven’t wedged mixed martial arts into the X Games yet. I’m sure it’s in the works.

In another 10 years, will we have last-man-standing halfpipe battles? Lava pits under the megaramp? Death Race 2000 on the Super Truck course? Jousting?

”After all, what’s more X-treme than killing someone?”

TV audiences aren’t quite there (yet). But putting Call of Duty into the mix opens some new doors. After all, what’s more X-treme than killing someone? It’s not like it’s never been a thing, either. Human history is full of Roman gladiators fighting lions, pistols at dawn, matadors fighting bulls, American Gladiators fighting Laser and Turbo …the list goes on. Are we heading toward X Games 2035: Running Man on a Skateboard?

The real takeaway from this, however, is simple. It requires no deep thought. This is the first time in a very long time I’ve thought at all about the X Games, save for the occasional disparaging reference. The X Games are irrelevant to skateboarding. At best a sideshow, at worst an accidental self-parody.

They’re like clear griptape: it still exists because SOMEONE out there, who knows who exactly, still buys it. And kids, that’s how professional video gaming became X-treme.

Comments

  1. Brendan

    May 9, 2014 11:43 am

    these kids sponsored by Beano!

    Reply
  2. Dylan

    May 9, 2014 2:08 pm

    You lost all of my credibility when you called Evel Knievel a “big dumb baby.”

    Clearly you have no place in the judgement of action sports. The article carries no weight in my opinion, other than simply stating the awful truth that CoD is now considered an “action-sport.”

    Reply
    • Jump off a building

      May 9, 2014 5:12 pm

      Shut up you kook, ever hear of an exaggeration to get your point across? Who the fuck uses the term “action-sport” anyway? Probably some one who’s never shredded a day in their puny existence.

      Reply
    • jigga

      May 13, 2014 8:55 pm

      dude losing a stranger’s credibility based on a single comment is harsh. im sorry you had to experience that kind of let down. is his the first time you have read an article with intentional hyperbole? its a tool to heighten the readers experience, not a literal comparison.

      also, call of duty is a recruiting tool for the us army enjoyed by virgins

      Reply
  3. Dennis Butterworth

    May 9, 2014 2:14 pm

    I’m interested to see if they refer to these Dew-swilling cheeto-puffs as ‘athletes.’

    Reply
    • Scuffz

      May 9, 2014 4:41 pm

      They’re already considered athletes. Late last year a South Korean gamer was granted a special U.S. visa that’s normally reserved for athletes like baseball players. Gaming isn’t at the same level as it is in South Korea where top gamers are celebrities but I’d say we’re heading in that direction.

      Reply
    • Don't skat butlikeit

      September 4, 2014 8:15 pm

      You had me on my knees laughing bro

      Reply
  4. Alejandro

    May 9, 2014 3:57 pm

    I disagree with the vey last sentence of this article: if there is someone buying something, I should be able to get skid plates in my country…there has to be a large base for something to sell.

    Reply

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