An Open Letter to the X Games

Dear X Games,
Hi, it’s been a long time since we spoke. I know. I skipped out on you last year and talked some shit. That was my bad. But, you can’t blame me. You’re hanging out in Los Angeles and I’m holding it down on the East Coast. I mean, if you are going to walk around all “made for TV” then I might as well stay home and check you out on …TV. The beers are cheaper from my fridge than at the Home Depot Center. Enough of the chit shat. The reason I’m writing is I think it’s time we had a talk about where you’re heading. I understand you want to try new things and “experiment.” But, nobody wants you to make a mistake you’re going to regret. So let’s talk a little bit.

I hear you’re dropping vert. Can I ask why? I’m hearing things like that it’s about “staying ahead of the current trend with action sports.” Is that right? So are you trying to embrace the long standing round wall revolution that’s been taking over small town America from every public and DIY skate park across the lower 48? Does this mean you’ll start pitching in with the Tony Hawk Foundation and giving back to skating? I think that’s pretty cool and we can always use the help. Last years X Games prize money was only a small section of the ad revenue you generated from X Games advertising. If you’re open to new things and trying to stay current carve out a small portion of those X dollars for building parks. Don’t forget people actually skate along with watching skating on TV.

I also heard you might have been scarred by some low TV ratings. It’s understood you gotta pay the bills but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Think about the ratings bonanza you will reap alone from the Ryan Sheckler vs. Shaun White match up in this “super park” event. While Shaun has no real interest in doing the mega ramp Sheckler has stepped to it according to Plan B’s website. No worries though, Shaun will show up and give it a go. If not…hey that’s the chance you take.

Here’s where I gotta show some tough love. You are taking a big chance on tossing out vert all together. “Incorporating elements of …” is very different from vert itself. A few vertical walls isn’t the same thing. In reality here’s what you are about to do: you are about to send a lot of credibility back to the Dew Tour and the ASA. Listen to what I am saying here. You lead this space. This action sports thing, this event, this…you practically re-invented the skate comp and made it a spectacle. The ASA is like the county fair of action sports and they’ll still have vert events. Sending any remaining credibility out the door isn’t the smartest thing.

X Games, lets cut the crap. What you are doing is a made-for-TV event and that’s OK. But, turning your back on the skating people love, the skating people grew up with and the skating people aspire to achieve is a very dangerous thing. If you want to stay current add more skating and less rally car. Find a way to include the traditions of skating without removing a large piece of its past.

OK, I’ve probably burned a few bridges here and won’t be getting my media credentials for the X Games this summer. However you look at it… I say this because I care about you X Games. You brought more exposure to skating in the early part of this decade and that inadvertently led to more dollars coming in for public parks. Hopefully, your move will grow a new audience rather than completely turn off the old one. You are going to get one chance at this change-up. I’ll tell you right now I don’t agree with it. But, if you are going to do it here my one bit of advice: Don’t half a** it and don’t f*** it up. You can’t build a great concrete park out of skatelite. Not outdoors in a Los Angeles Summer. So start buying land, start digging those holes and start building forms because you have some concrete to set down in order to get this right. After all, more is riding on this than your advertising dollars.

See you this summer,
Jonny
SouthoftheNorth.com

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