The last few days, TV has been inundated with idiots strapping a board to their feet and hurtling down a mountain side. Other idiots were taking motorized devices and doing things that even Evel Knievel would say was insane.
All over TV, the Winter X-Games were on.
The X-Games have brought us some of the most amazing athletic displays of all-time. This one was much of the same, seeing Shawn White score a perfect 100 on the snowboard superpipe, which translates into him doing roughly 3,000 things no sane human would even try. Another person did the first front flip ever recorded on a snowmobile. It’s exactly what the P.T. Bushnell Company had in mind when they invented the machine.
When one is watching extreme sports there are several questions that swirl around. For instance, a person is prone to question many of the laws of physics we have learned in school. Also, one is prone to question why, exactly, a human being would feel the need to soar through the air on a board with wheels or try to flip a snowmobile while they are on it.
The thought of most of these sports goes past idiotic into a territory that few are bold enough to venture into. While most people’s idea of exercise involves jogging, these people would laugh at this idea for cardio, instead opting for a nice relaxing back flip over hard concrete or packed down snow.
I have always been fascinated with these sports. There is nothing quite as amazing, and at the same time perplexing, as an extreme athlete performing at his or her full potential. Any second, you know they could crash and suffer serious injury. Just as likely, though, they will pull off one of the most amazing things a human being could imagine doing.
This thought is what was running through my head over 11 years ago. Having watched the X-Games, my friends and I had become fascinated with these athletes. We threw away our interest in the old sports, ditching our footballs and baseballs for things that could kill you, or at least make you bleed quite a bit.
My friends had taken up skateboarding. When I say they had taken up skateboarding, I of course mean they had taken up rolling on a skateboard and trying to jump, only to have that same board fly 10 feet while they, most of the time, landed safely on the ground. Having a much firmer grasp on the concept of gravity, I myself had not tried such a dangerous feat.
Not until one sunny Sunday afternoon, anyway.
“Come on,” they said. “It’s not that hard.” Why should I have any reason to doubt them? After all, they only fell once every five times they were on the board. They were, to me, the equivalent of Tony Hawk.
They handed me a skateboard and proceeded to give me tips. First, you do not want to fall off. If you fall off, you will hurt yourself. Secondly, remember the first rule because, like they had said, you will hurt yourself.
I put the board on the ground. The wheels touched the pavement, making a clattering noise as they hit. Instinctively, I put my left foot on the board, my right foot keeping me from certain peril.
“Go ahead,” they said.
I focused on what I was about to do. The magnitude of the situation was not lost on me. After 13 years of only walking, jogging, and running on the ground, I was about to roll over it.
I visualized the run I would do. First, I would take the skateboard down the edge of the cul-de-sac. Then, without hesitation, I would turn and come back, ending with a kickflip. This seemed easy enough. After all, I had done it on video games. It couldn’t be that much different.
I pushed off with my right foot. I was free! Suddenly, I found myself rolling downhill. I could feel my extreme-sports instincts kick in. I wished for a ramp so I could do the stunts I had always admired. I knew that I was born to skateboard.
That certainty lasted roughly eight seconds.
I made it ten feet before the skateboard decided it would be better off on its own, dumping me onto the pavement. I hit the ground and realized that falling hurts. It hurts quite a bit, even if you were just slowly rolling on a skateboard.
I did not try again. My ego and, more importantly, my butt were bruised enough for one lifetime. For the rest of my life, I would be restricted to walking on the pavement I had once dreamed of dominating on wheels.
You know what? I am absolutely okay with that. I do not feel like I missed much besides more butt-pains. It’s not like I was headed down a path that would lead to great wealth and fame. None of my friends became professional skateboarders. In fact, none of them even skateboard now. They all eventually reached the conclusion that I had come to at 13.
Extreme sports should be left to those who know what they’re doing. We are free to watch and enjoy the tricks that they can execute.
Everyone else will probably just hurt themselves.
- I’m Too Old for This! (laurieanichols.wordpress.com)
- How Tall is Tony Hawk Height and Weight (celebrityheightandweight.com)