September 29, 2003
The other day I saw a picture in the paper in which a horse was jumping over a barracade. It was a nice photo, a head-on view that captured the grace and power of the horse as he completed his jump. Completely ruining the majesty of the picture was the idiot on roller blades behind the horse, hanging on to a towrope, midway through the same jump.
IÂ’ve seen two events that epitomize the stupidity. I canÂ’t even bring myself to call them sport. Yes, they both require skill and physical effort and possibly even talent, but so does rock climbing.
One event consists of two guys jumping out of an airplane. During the freefall period, one guy does all kinds of acrobatics with a boogie board strapped to his feet. HeÂ’s literally surfing the sky. The second member of the team has a video camera strapped to his head, and his job is to film the first guy. Their score is the combined totals of not only the acrobatics, but the quality of the camera work. How well in-frame did he stay? Interesting angles?
Calling this a sport is stretching it. To be truly extreme, forget the parachutes and letÂ’s see how dedicated you are to your Â‘sportÂ’.
The second Â‘sportÂ’ is a classic example of piling on. Add complexity beyond all reason and common sense, for no reason other than to be more extreme. The first time I saw this event, they led in with a montage of guys on motorcycles, doing tricks and leg kicks and stuff while in mid-air after jumping off a ramp. Ok, this is a step up from Evel Knievel, whose daredevil stuff I donÂ’t consider a sport either.
But weÂ’re piling on, remember? This event is a winter sport. These fools are screaming down this chute on a motorcycle with spiked tires and up a ramp covered with ice! The landing area is ice too. And the simple leg kicks and such are so last year. These guys are pulling out all the stops and doing back flips on their motorcycles, and one dude brought the crowd to their feet by getting off his bike in mid-air and letting go of the handlebars. This guy actually flew alongside his bike for a couple of seconds before getting back on in time to land. On ice.
I mentioned talent. Apparently a complete lack of common sense qualifies.
In the last year, a major extreme skateboarder Â– supposedly a professional Â– died of massive injuries when he fell multiple stories from a hotel fire escape. He was riding the handrails down on his board.
Two world-class mountaineers died when they decided to be the first to ski down a mountain from the summit. The peak was mostly ice, and the last time one was seen he was on his back, sliding out of control. The other managed to accidentally snag the rope of a group of ascending climbers, and almost killed most of them as well as himself.
Even television commercials are appearing that make fun of the excesses of extreme sports. This after a long run of commercials showing us how cool it was to be extreme. IÂ’m sick of the word Â‘extremeÂ’.
I'm looking for investors for my new NASCAR towed-luge league. Any adrenalin junkies out there? This could be the next big thing.
Update: Forget luge, check out Extreme Ironing, the "latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt."
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