User:Alex.Timms/Action Sports and their Rise to Popularity

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Action or Extreme Sports have in recent years come to the forefront of events across the planet with the help of new tricks, new athletes and new venues. The popularity of these action sports will be discussed in depth in the article, but a great deal has to do with the competition, and having an elite sporting event every year as a pose to every four years keeps participants and spectators on the edge of their seats as developments and changes can happen so quickly. From rock climbing and marathon running the original action sports to today's challenge to the sporting community to devise new competitions and events to challenge the next generation who have access to better technology and more events to prove themselves worthy. With the help of major sponsors and partners to help lift a new event into the spotlight of the media jungle and compete against other more traditional sports that have been around for decades or centuries. And lastly to instill interest and fire in future generations to pick up where the sport left off and push the boundaries and take events to new levels.

Action Sport History and Development[edit]

Rock climber using the Free Climb technique

Actions Sports are the public’s way of getting away from the safe and controlled environment that they reside in, the need to perform an Action Sport requires a higher level of mental and physical strains than would normally arise from traditional sports, aided by the development of better technologies surrounding the sport[1]. By definition, an Action Sport is a sport that gives the partaker the feeling of an adrenalin rush, the activity being dangerous and hazardous to the health of the participant should things go wrong[2]. For example, skydiving, jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane, followed by lord know how long of free fall and then a chilled float to earth; or skateboarding, big hills, big ramps, sliding on hand rails; or big wave surfing, watching all the “lunatics” flit around the globe in search of the largest waves to conquer, and bailing will pretty much seal the riders doom.

In the late 1970, upon the higher demand of safety surrounding daily life, Action Sports first came to light with the first two sports, rock climbing and marathon running shinning through[3]. Rock climbing since its flare into the limelight of action sports has grown into many different forms of the sport like traditional climbing, bouldering, free climbing just to name a few. The need to jump into your car and cruise to the nearest mountain in order to get your daily dose of adrenalin has been greatly enhanced by the development of cars, and the construction of rock walls in just about every high school on the planet as well as some gyms. Now living in the city a rock climber can hit the gym for a fix! From the 70’s, the equipment surround climbing has also advanced, better ropes, better harnesses and better shoes[4]. All of these aides have helped push rock climbing to where it is today, from a sport where only those with the equipment can pursue to getting the kids together and having a rock climbing birthday party!

Marathon running was an easier action sport to get into that rock climbing simply because there was less specialist equipment that was required. Everyone out there can get their hands on a pair of joggers and then just his the pavement for some training before the big race. What was originally a 24.85-mile race in the first Greek Olympic games was later changed to 26.2 for the London Olympic games, all so the event would end right out the front of the Royal Families viewing box in White City Stadium[5]. Rock climbing and marathon running are very similar in their challenges upon the athlete’s body and the pay off is similar, the adrenalin rush of not failing to finish the climb or run.

The action sport calendar includes the ESPN X-Games[6], of which there is a winter and summer component. The Winter X-Games have become so popular that there is now a North American competition Winter X[7] and a European competition Winter X Europe[8], both of which are held early on in the year, around January, the 2012 Winter X-Games are to be held in Aspen, Colorado. The summer X-Games are usually held in the USA, in the middle of the year. And for true rock stars like Shaun White who stomps in the summer and winter X-Games, receiving medals for skating and snowboarding[9]!

With the development of better equipments and newer techniques to approach these action sports, there came the development of sporting events, agendas and sponsorships deals to prove competitions of which to stage these new and exciting sports to the public, companies like RedBull and ESPN pursuing these challenges.

Popularity, Events and Sponsorships[edit]

Peter Besenyei in the Perth Red Bull Air Race , 2008

Red Bull, an energy drink that “Gives you Wings” is a company at the forefront of the action sports world, pursuing new sports and events as well as sponsoring already developed sports. Red Bull own the rights to events like the Red Bull Air Race, an event to stretches the globe to the most glamorous cities in the world, to showcase true flying stars that battle each other and the clock for the championship[10]. Red Bull Elevation BMX, a down hill BMX dirt racing competition of best tricks and most fluid run, with unclean landings and bails having an adverse effect[11]. Street Style is a blend of soccer juggling and break dancing to produce an electrifying one on one knock out competition with one ball and the best tricks and skills excelling the winner to the next round[12].

Since it was first brainstormed in 1993 by ESPN managements and its creation in 1995, the Summer Extreme Games, now known as X-Games, as well as the Winter X-Games and the Winter X Europe. From the first event in Rhode Island on the east coast of the USA, approximately 198,000 spectators arrive to the venue to watch the event. Over the years, with the aide of the internet the fan base for the X Games has grown to over 240,000 at the venue and many more online or watching it live on ESPN. Through the years, the sports involved with the X-Games have come and gone, as seen entertaining to the public. Inline skating was a sport held at the first Extreme Games, which included events like speed, vert and street inline skating, has in recent years been eliminated due to its decline in popularity along with rock climbing and street luge. But new sports and events have been added to the agenda to fill the void left by the loss of these sport, such as Motor X, BMX and rally, and although some of these sports have been in existence from the first X-Games, new individual events under these sports have risen to the top of the entertainment ladder. For example, under the sport of skateboarding there are six disciplines, vert, park, street, big air best trick and S-K-A-T-E, of which there is the men’s and women’s events of street and vert competitions[13].

ESPN Sport channel logo, developers of the X Games

The X Games proved so popular that in 2002 the first X Games Global Championship was created, where five continents competed in winter and summer events in Whistler, Canada and Texas, USA respectively for the ultimate global champions[14]. There were to nations from North America, Canada and USA competing at this event[15].

To help boost the youth of today into action sports, councils around the world are investing more and more money into skate parks where action sport nuts can descend to a venue and challenge one another into doing their best. Video games have also helped to boost the awesomeness of these action sports, with franchises like the Tony Hawk skater series[16], the Amped[17], [1][18], SSX[19] and Shaun White Action Sport Franchise[20] series for snowboarding.

The Future[edit]

Action Sport will always be on the forefront of the sporting world due to the appeal of younger audience and the younger participants in sporting events like Nyjah Huston, who in 2006 became the youngest athlete to compete at the X Games at just 11 years of age.[21] Local community action sport events also help to fuel the fire that drives the passion for the ever-keen young enthusiasts in action sports. From local events where the competitors drop their name down to be able to throw down against one-another to amateur events with athletes, they cannot be pro's, but are allowed to have limited sponsorships, before being noticed and signed with pro teams and invites to pro events[22].

Skateboarding and BMX riding is local parks has been a common site over recent years and inline skating has severely declined in popularity, but a new face in the action sport world that is beginning to attract attentions and many young participants is riding a scooter. In local parks all across the country young kids are starting to pick up the art of riding a scooter in a bowl or half pipe, and with the development of new equipment like wider handlebars, better wheels and frames the pursuit of new tricks and ways of riding these scooters is pushed to the boundary[23]. Accompanying the scooter is the ripstik, of which I’m sure almost everyone has seen one, a unique skate-like tool with a single wheel under each platform, and a strong spring that separates each platform driving the user to “wiggle” the board in order to get movement and momentum[24]. These two new sports have risen over the years and with continued participation by the public and openings in local sporting events, these sports will most likely find their way into competitions around the globe like the X-Games. For Example, the newly refurbished Belconnen Skate Park[25] down on the waterfront on Ginninderra Lake, which attracts the youth of today to challenge each other with tricks and skills and practice, all pointed towards the chance to demonstrate their own unique style upon competition day!

Kite Surfing has been a sport since French brothers Dominique and Bruno Legaignoux who were sailing nuts sat down and pondered the sport from 1984 until its development in 1993-94[26]. Its true potential was unleashed off the coast of Hawaii by all round action sport junkie Laird Hamilton and drove this sport to gain keen new enthusiasts. With the development of the kite, new ideas surrounding the use of the kite have emerged, like snow kiting which in it has kite skiing and kite snowboarding. With the Winter X-Games constantly gaining interest, these winter kiting sports will attract pros that are out for a new way to get their adrenalin fix.

Ever heard of the Ultimate Boarder competition? A unique competition that incorporates snowboarding, skateboarding and surf boarding into three events by a single individual, “the only board sport triathlon in the world!”. This event was organised to first be held in 2008, over a week from the 13th to the 19th April in California in Squaw Valley for the snow event and Ventura for the skate and surf section. This event was created due to the continued interest that these three sports have attained over their years at the forefront of the action-sporting world[27]. And in 2012 over the week of the 17th to the 24th of March the competition will see the fifth year of the event, with the setting to be held at Cardiff, Del Mar and Bear Mountain for the surfing, skating and snowboarding events respectively in California[28].

These newly developed sports in the action sport world continue to provide a platform for new ideas and more new events and competitions to bring together the best of the best. The X-Games will see new line-ups in competitors as well as events and locations as deals run out with Aspen and California and more and more international superstars rise to the challenge. But nothing is as important as the build up for local talent and interest to further these challenging and technical sports.


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  2. Farlex. (2011) [ Sport}. The Free Dictionary 1st Nov, 2011
  3. Williamson, M. History of Extreme Sports. 31st Oct, 2011
  4. Williamson, M. History of Extreme Sports. 31st Oct, 2011
  5. Jones, H. (2003) Marathon History 27th Oct, 2011
  6. ESPN Action Sports (2011). Summer X-Games 17. 29th Oct, 2011
  7. ESPN Action Sports (2011). Winter X-Games 15 29th Oct, 2011
  8. ESPN Action Sports (2011). Winter X Europe 31st Oct, 2011
  9. ESPN X Games (2011). Shaun White wins second Vert Gold 1st Nov, 2011
  10. Red Bull Air Race (2011). Red Bull Air Race Red Bull Air Race 31st Oct, 2011
  11. Red Bull Elevation (2008). Red Bull Elevation Red Bull Elevation Dirt BMX. 31st Oct, 2011
  12. Red Bull Street Style (2010). Street Style Red Bull Street Style. 31st Oct, 2011
  13. ESPN X-Games History (2007). X-Games History 29th Oct, 2011
  14. Transworld Snowboarding (2002) ESPN to Stage X Games Global Championship 28th Oct, 2011
  15. ESPN (2007). X Games History: Pt. 3 27th Oct, 2011
  16. Activision Games, (2011). Tony Hawk Skateboarding Series 2nd Oct, 2011
  17. Giant Bomb, (2005). Indie Built Inc. 31st Oct, 2011
  18. Giant Bomb, (2001) UEP Systems 31st Oct, 2011
  19. Giant Bomb, (2010). SSX Franchise by EA Games. 31st Oct, 2011
  20. Giant Bomb, (2010). Shaun White Action Sport Series by Ubisoft Montreal Studios Ubisoft Montreal Studios
  21. Guinness World Reconds, (2006). Youngest X Games Athlete., 31st Oct, 2011
  22. Cave, S. How do I find Non-Sponsored Skateboarding Events? 27th Oct, 2011
  23. Freestyle Scooter Comps. (2011) Freestyle Scooter Competitions., 31st Oct, 2011
  24. Ripstik Australia, (2011). Ripstik Australia., 31st Oct, 2011
  25. Skateboarding Australia, (2010). Belconnen Skate Park Upgrades., 29th Oct, 2011
  26. Inflatable Kite, (2005). The Kiteboarding History. 29th Oct, 2011
  27. Mangiacapre, J (2008). Ultimate Boarder competition combines surf/skate/snow, 28th Oct, 2011]
  28. Transworld Snowboarding, (2011). Ultimate Boarder®, The Only Boardsport Triathlon In The World, Announes 2012 Dates And Locations. Transworld Snowboarding, 28th October, 2011