Sports have had a long history of being deeply rooted in American culture, and for a while those which were classified as extreme or action sports competed on a national scale of popularity with baseball, basketball, and football. However in the past decade, figures of the Americans both partaking in extreme/action sports as well as viewing them on television has significantly decreased, forcing the industry to consider why.
Some argue that these issues stem from the way in which both the action and extreme sports industries are run financially, while others blame the dip in popularity on the new generation of youth. Although I do agree with certain aspects of these arguments, I feel as if they fail to recognize the larger issue that has always clouded the extreme/action sports industries; the inability to spread these sports across all regions of the country. Less than one percent of Americans listed an extreme sport as their favorite sport to watch on television.
One of the reasons why baseball has been dubbed America’s pastime is that it is arguably the most accessible sport in America. All you need is a ball, or something resembling a ball, and an object to strike it with. Throw in a few natural landmarks for bases and you have yourself some afternoon entertainment. The same mindset applies to football, which can be played in the rain or snow, on dirt or on grass.
However when one tries to apply this mindset to many extreme sports, complications emerge. Skateboarding is impossible in the regions of the country with harsher weather, while snowboarding and surfing are highly dependent upon both snowfall and a large body of water in order to partake in the sports. In reality, although these extreme/action sports may seem just as simple as football or basketball, the conditions which are required is an entirely different factor to consider.
In the end, the industries of extreme and action sports can do as much as they want to attempt to improve their respective financial situations and business models, but at one point they must realize that their dependence upon the natural environments of their consumers is perhaps the most prominent factor. Quite frankly, there is little surfing in the Midwest, and there is no snowboarding in the desert. As a result of these conditions, I would suggest that the only legitimate way in which the popularity of these sports would return to their previous state is if the industry as a whole concentrates their advertising efforts on the regions of the country which have proven to be popular in a given extreme or action sport. Otherwise, efforts will continue to be wasted trying to spread the popularity of a sport into geographic areas which will never support them.