After five years of mixed results and a failure to find a competition format that worked and excited, the plug has officially been pulled on surfing for this years Summer X Games in Los Angeles. And while earlier this year we witnessed ESPN and X Games organizers get blasted for the decision (one that was soon after overturned) to axe the half-pipe competition, I’m not so sure that the exclusion of surfing from this years games is going to elicit the same type of reaction.
The allure of the X Games is seeing the worlds most talented and skilled athletes competing at the highest level and in the most challenging arenas for each sport respectively. While that was the case for the majority of the action sports showcased in the games, organizers were simply unable to find a way to fit surfing into their mold in order to capture the hearts and minds of their audience when it came to surfing.
The conflicting schedules of the ASP world tour with the timing of the summer games was one of the major issues that organizers were facing. There was no way they were going to pull any of the fellas off of the WCT in order to participate in their event. Although I would personally be thrilled beyond belief to watch the mind-blowing exhibitions of WQS regulars such as Clay Marzo, Dusty Payne, and Pat Gudauskas as well as the always explosive and innovative Jamie O’Brien running wild on Puerto Escondido, it doesn’t appear that was a sentiment shared by those calling the shots. Those looking to sponsor the event were undoubtedly looking for surfers with highly recognizable names more along the lines of Slater, Taj, A.I., and Parko. With the Billabong Pro J-Bay running in the same time frame as Summer X, that simply wasn’t going to happen.
Try as they may, I’m not sure the X Games will ever be able to capture the greatness of surfing the way they have been able to with many of the other featured events. The same unpredictability and uniqueness of surfing that draws many of us to this amazing sport is what makes it difficult for X Games to package up and deliver to those they are seeking to reach. The ocean runs on it’s own schedule and waves cannot be built and disassembled in a matter of hours. So while the plan is for the surfing portion of Summer X to take a year off and be evaluated for future improvements, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go away completely. If the X Games remains unable to put on surfing’s best face and celebrate it’s majesty, maybe it’s better that they didn’t put it on at all.
Posted by Shaun on Sunday, June 15th, 2008 in Surfing.