- Chris Palmer, ESPN the Magazine
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[Ed.'s Note: The Action Sports Report is a weekly blog that covers sports from skateboarding to snowboarding to FMX.]
The great thing about action sports is that they evolve at warp speed compared to other sports. But, like most action aficionados, I'm still always craving more. Not just on the ramp, but off it as well. If I ruled the world, here are nine random things I'd make happen. Or at least pray really hard they would.
1. The Return of the 360 in FMX
Sure, FMXers continue to push the boundaries with ever-more-daring tricks. But let's return to the golden age that was 2003 which bore the sickest of all tricks: the 360. It's pretty much disappeared from the action landscape. Why? Because it's so friggin' hard to do. Think about this: Most freestyle tricks require the rider to move the bike very little in the air. They just operate around it. Even on a back flip the bike stays in relatively the same position (aside from flipping backward). The 360 requires you to muscle the bike in an unorthodox manner, and the outcome is extremely unpredictable. Not to mention the consequences of slamming a 360 can be season-ending. The problem is, if one guy isn't doing them on a regular basis, no one else will.
2. High School Skateboard Teams
Skateboarding is the fastest-growing sport among teens in America. More kids skate than play varsity football. So why not add skateboarding as a varsity sport and have schools compete against each other for city, league and state championships just like their stick-and-ball brethren? Seems like a great way to pool the talent and raise the quality of skating across the board.
3. Impartial Judges
I know the action-sports community is a tight-knit one. But is it just me, or is there something inherently wrong with having the athlete's friends judging the comps?
4. Better Health care
It seems like the same old story. A rider suffers a catastrophic, career-ending injury and it turns out he didn't have proper medical insurance and is forced to rely on the charity of friends, sponsors and the public. The insurance companies treat action sports stars like lepers. Maybe it's time to organize a union and create a fund that registered riders can pay into in the event of a career-ending injury. Just a thought. Anything is better than the "system" we have now. (To read more about this topic, check out this ASR post).
5. Step-Up Moto Needs a Makeover
Step-Up needs Ricky Carmichael. Or at least some type of makeover. It's gotten a bit sloppy over the years. Here's the solution: Embed a metal ramp in the base of the dirt takeoff so the jump doesn't deteriorate during the competition. This way the riders get more pop off the lip and aren't preoccupied with grooming the takeoff. Next, add at least ten feet of earth to the backside landing. This decreases the pounding the riders take upon re-entry (see R.C.) and encourages higher attempts. Finally, the idea of a rolling start, which would increase maximum height by at least 10 feet, would now be possible. Step-Up is one of the longest-running events, and these simple changes would keep it from getting stale.
6. Go Claire!
Here's hoping Claire Bevilacqua, one of the most outrageous personalities in all of action sports, lives up to her potential on the ASP Women's Tour. Her "W" at the Tidal 9 Women's Pro Pipeline is a good start. Enjoy the $3,500, Claire!
7. Better (Less?) Security at the X Games
Have you heard the one about the action sports reporter who was stopped by security, told to "go all the way around" to another gate only to find out the guard had sent him on a wild goose chase, and was nevertheless stopped six times along the way by other yellow-jacket-clad guards who knew even less? No? Then you've never covered the X Games.
8. More BMX Gods
I mean, really, BMX is bringing up the rear when it comes to star wattage. 'Twas not always so. In the late '90s, luminaries like Matt Hoffman, Dennis McCoy and Dave Mirra were the headliners of the X Games. Aside from Tony Hawk, no one else was even close. Sure, the Miracle Boy rocked it well into the 2000s, but those days have faded. Those pioneering icons have taken a back seat to a younger generation that has yet to produce a future Hall of Famer. So listen up, Daniel Dhers, Garrett Reynolds and the rest of you little shredders, another 10 years on the podium should do it.
9. Who's Up For Wheelies?
The most underrated Moto-X crowd-pleaser. Of course they don't score you any points in a run or give you a leg up during a race. But they're just so darn cool. And the best part is everybody can do 'em. Even the ASR!
Nine awesome things in action sports we'd like to see