Saturday, August 8, 2009

Have Extreme Sports Gone a Bit Soft?


Over the last 20ish years a whole new genre of sports came into existence: X-Treme!™ Sports®©. A wide variety of sports sharing a similar ethos such as snowboarding, mountain biking and base-jumping, have all flourished under the spiritual leadership of the almighty Red Bull empire. I have been a fully paid up member of the extreme sport phenomena, but suddenly I have come to the terrifying realisation that all these sports are actually a bit soft. They’re not soft in comparison with say, lawn bowls or ice dancing, but they are if you take a look back in history.
Not convinced? Have you also been fooled by the great ESPN/X-Games marketing cover-up? You want proof?

Here are just a few examples of sports that have gone soft.

Turned into this…

Sword fighting...

Evolved into this…

And Wall of Death with added lions...


Shit we don’t even do this one any more! This sport was so extreme there is no soft modern equivalent.
But the most shocking to me is my own beloved sport. This is an example of the sort of snowboarding jump we are used to seeing. It's the set-up from the most recent Red Bull Snowscrapers competition. With my sissy-modern-man eyes this looks like a big jump and at 90 feet tall it's not something I'll be taking on anytime soon.

But back in the days of yore look what they used to build…
Los Angeles, Dogers Stadium, 1963
90 feet, pah! This one is 167 feet.

And they didn’t just built one of these things and then realise it was a little bit scary and give it up. Nope, they clearly loved it, because they built loads of the monsterous buggers to throw themselves off. How come I didn’t know about this?
Chicago, Soldier Field, 1954

Los Angeles, Coliseum 1938

and a couple of pictures of - Vancouver, Empire Stadium, 1958

Please build one of these for the Olympics.

How the hell are we going to compete with all that? I guess we’ll have to man up and bring some proper danger back into the sport. To live up to these oldsters though we really need to pick up our game. I guess to come close we need to try something like:

  • Naked errupting volcano boarding, or
  • Try lathering up in seal juice and giving polar bear rodeo a shot, or
  • If you are on a budget you could always try rail-sliding the steps of Portsmouth Guildhall dressed like Gary Glitter.
This stuff reminds me of the time I was in a car with my mum and two of her friends as we drove through a small town near my house. There was a fight outside the pub and one of my mum’s friends tutted and said “It’s just so much more violent these days”. I responded “WTF? So you think its more violent now than say medieval times when people rampaged about the place butchering, raping and burning people alive, or maybe you think it is more violent than just 60 years ago when practically everyone was at war and 70 million people were shot, gassed and nuked to oblivion?”
My point didn’t go down all that well.
But it doesn't stop it from being valid. Lets just face it gang, we are a bunch of big girl’s blouses. The good news is that everyone else is even softer. They are like putty in our hands. The world is ours!
Quiver in bowel-loosening fear soft modern man.
Want more snowboarding history? Check out the origins of illicit snowboarding

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