To the Extreme: Alternative Sports, Inside and Out by Robert E Rinehart Synthia Sydnor

By Robert E Rinehart Synthia Sydnor

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The US press declaimed, for example, the credibility of the sport when Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati lost, then regained, the gold medal after violating the IOC’s drug policy. ” (Sun News Services, “Notebook: Rebagliati regains gold on appeal,” The San Bernardino County Sun, 13 Feb 1998, p. C3). John M. Glionna cites both snowboarders’ marijuana use and the fact that “several boarders have become lost while venturing off and carving their own runs in unpatrolled wooded areas away from well-groomed ski slopes, prompting expensive and time-consuming rescue missions” (“Snowboarders shrug off outlaw rap,” Los Angeles Times, 9 March 1998, p.

We are letting our sport be defined by the people who have the things that we think we want. We have become consumed with our success, and are so eager to keep it going that we have lost sight of how we used to measure success. The television producers are defining rollerblading now; the corporate sponsors are. Our parents are defining rollerblading. What was once an alternative to football is fast becoming a replacement for it. The focus in rollerblading is moving away from the personal goals of the individual and quickly moving toward winning championships and training to win championships.

However, Disney, through ESPN (and, of course, ESPN2), has effectively cornered the broadcast market for extreme sports programming. In fact, in 1996, live attendance at ESPN’s X Games was estimated to be 201,350; in 1997, the attendance increased to 219,900. Attendance is free: crowd shots are important for television to convey an image of ardent support. 5 ratings for the 1998 X Games. 42 ESPN’s images of extreme sports (via the vehicle of the X Games) have gained cultural cachet and produced relatively homogeneous and dominant messages of what extreme sports constitute and how extreme sports (and their participants) may behave.

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