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. ........

    May 19, 2014 2:25 am

    What the fuck makes him think all skateboarders are “down”
    with cod? Its lame as shit

    Reply
  2. Roller Dude

    June 6, 2014 12:45 am

    if you cant die from it, its not an extreme sport.

    Reply
  3. anonymous

    June 26, 2014 7:19 pm

    im a skater, and a competitive call of duty player. u know which i make money from? COD. Its big and e-sports is only making it bigger. like it or not it takes skill to be good in that game. its not all run and gun, shoot, kill, get killed, repeat. I was weirded out by it being in xgames because we have our own tournaments, MLG. but her more power to the gamers who win big money from it.

    Reply
  4. The Man

    July 3, 2014 2:17 am

    I can’t believe that a Call of Duty player can get the same exact medal as an X Game athlete that puts his/her life on the line. I remember watching a couple of people die during some events of the x games trying to get a gold medal. I understand that MLG gaming is getting popular nowadays, but I don’t wan’t it anywhere near the X Games. It’s absolutely insulting to all the extreme sport athletes.

    Reply

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