It’s not so much the X Games as it is our games. For a few days every summer, Los Angeles isn’t a town run by starlets fueled with Botox and cocaine, it’s where action sports stars rule the Walk of Fame. In a city of unthinkable traffic jams, dirt crews and ramp builders erect harrowing tracks that will launch the brave, bold, and skilled into glory.
The X Games were indoctrinated in the ’90s as the underground bastard of the Olympics, with the “X” being a nod to Generation X but functioning more as a riff on the marketing buzzword coined by non-Gen Xers: Xtreme. The only people under 33 who use the term extreme sports are the frat boys who cheer each other with crappy beer when Shaun White does his thing in the Olympics. (Speaking of which, it’s time the Olympics ingests a few more of our sports. Nothing personal against male gymnastics, but when’s the last time 100,000-plus showed up to watch a dude work the pommel horse?)
But we’ve already come a long way. The X Games have had a pretty solid run since the inaugural event held in Rhode Island back in 1995. Just imagine what it must have been like back then: a ton of white dudes with bandanna-held dreadlocks and shitty ink pounding lemon-lime Gatorades while getting all stoked to see the street luge nut balls blow a high-speed turn and slam into a wall of hay bales. And they were just killing time until the extreme women’s speed climbing got under way.
Over the years X Games has been host to a plethora of dope and not-so-dope action sports. As a cinematographer in the motocross industry with a general love for all things motorbike, I have got to say that my favorite events usually involve anything with two wheels and a motor, and this year all of the events—from skateboarding and BMX to motocross—were pretty damn inspiring and demanded a healthy dose of respect. That wasn’t always the case; some of the lamest circus tricks I have ever seen were at the X Games, including super-modified snow shovel racing and skysurfing (it was like they took a Dan Cortese MTV Sports segment from the ’90s as the blueprint).