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Crowd unimpressed? Put mortals on motorcycles

Barry Smith

A good number of years ago (like 20) my father said to me, “Son, there are only so many things you can do on a skateboard.”His comment was not meant as a philosophical examination of the nature of limitations, but as a way to get me to stop skating long enough to do yard work.I didn’t agree, and I couldn’t keep quiet about it. I had to defend my beloved sport: “Not true, father. The sport of skateboarding continues to grow exponentially. In fact, it is progressing at such an alarming rate that it’s like watching eons of evolution take place before our very eyes. Last year everyone thought that doing a 540 was impossible, but Mike McGill proved otherwise. It was barely 10 years ago that the first frontside air above coping was executed by Tony Alva, and now look at the kind of air Hosoi is getting. To say that there are only so many things you can do on a skateboard flaunts your ignorance of both the sport and the flame that burns deeply within the human soul!”Of course, he didn’t hear any of this, as right after I said “Not true, father,” he fired up the leaf blower.As it turns out, he was at least partially correct – there are only so many things that I can do on a skateboard. But that’s another story.I realize that skateboarding isn’t featured in the Winter X Games this weekend, but surely you can make the leap, lame pun intended.At last year’s X Games I noticed a few times where the crowd’s reaction seemed out of proportion to what was taking place in front of them. Not always, of course, but there were pockets of jadedness. And I think, in defense of the crowd, it’s because we’re a little bit spoiled. Sure, the idea is to bring the most daring and skilled athletes together for the best display of all that is extreme, but there are times when the success of this plan backfires. Personally I think that if a motorcycle leaves the ground and lands again with the rider still sitting on it, it’s cause for celebration – an astounding feat that I could never do myself. But we, the crowd, just take this for granted. Of course they’re gonna land, and they better do something really impressive beforehand or they get a mere golf clap from me.I’m not complaining, I’m actually leading up to proposing my solution to crowd ennui. Here’s the plan: Each day five spectators are picked randomly from the crowd and forced to jump a motorcycle, drop in to the pipe, race a snowmobile, etc.”Next rider is Jenny Watkins. She works as a nurse, is a mother of three, and is being given a quick rundown as to how a motorcycle works even as we speak.”Sure, there’ll be mild injuries, but c’mon. Quit whining for just a minute.”Jenny’s kids are cheering her on, and it looks like she might need it. She seems to have put her helmet on backward. C’mon, people, make some noise!”Now, assuming Jenny has no experience in motorcycle jumping, she’ll probably not turn out an exemplary first performance. Bad for Jenny, but good for the crowd.”Ohhhh, tough break, Jenny. She’s OK. Looks like she’s already calling her lawyer as they load her into the ambulance. Give her a hand.”By having a mere mortal flail around up there, we’ll be reminded of just how high on the evolutionary scale these athletes really are.”Our next volunteer is Barry Smith. He seems frightened by the noise of snowmobiles, so this should be a real treat.”


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