The 14th (can you believe it?) installment of the X Games kicks off tomorrow, and it will be followed next weekend by the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics. While the Winter Olympics have borrowed heavily from the Winter X Games, the summer versions of the events haven't had much overlap so far. That needs to change - it's time to put skateboarding in the Olympics.
Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to have snowboarding in the Olympics. Skiing was a respectable sport, but snowboarding was just an excuse for punk kids to terrorize your nice family outing on the slopes. Now snowboarding is just as much a part of the Olympics as skiing. Parallel giant slalom, superpipe and snowboard cross are Olympic events, and the last two were lifted directly from the Winter X Games. The snowboard cross event in particular was completely stolen from Winter X. All Olympic skiing events are raced against the clock, but the X Games puts snowboarders and skiers all on the same course at the same time. This makes for much more interesting racing, and it's a credit to the International Olympic Committee that it took note and adopted one of the best innovations of the X Games.
Unlike its hibernal sister, the Summer Olympics have resisted adopting anything that might be considered "extreme." Sure, every year there are exhibition sports that show some crappy sport that's popular wherever the Olympics are being held, but it's time for the Olympics to grow and welcome in a little piece of the X Games: skateboarding.
Fourteen years of the X Games (and about 20 years of skateboarding before that) have led to a sport that is mature but still exciting and growing all the time. The most obvious candidate for adoption as an Olympic sport would be the halfpipe. Halfpipe (or "vert" as it is called in the X Games) is the most recognizeable skateboarding discipline. It would also have natural parallels with the Winter Olympics snowboarding superpipe.
Some purists and Luddites will undoubtedly resist such a change, but these same people probably resisted adding baseball in 1992 and beach volleyball in 1996. The Olympics has always added events (albeit slowly) for sports that become popular. Skateboarding has clearly reached the point where it's ready for inclusion in the biggest sports event in the world.
Plus, who doesn't want to see more of this guy?
OK, maybe it's not such a good idea after all.