February 11, 2014

"Some Young Gods"

Photo nabbed/grabbed from In Focus; by Mike Blake for Reuters.

The merits of throwing skateboarding into the Olympics is one of those evergreen topics that will only recede with its seemingly inevitable inclusion into some future, summer games. It's gonna happen, eventually, so what's the coverage going to look like? Probably what the snowboard coverage has looked like, today.

Heroe(s) and (probably) villains!

Plenty of major media folks weighed in on Shaun White, beyond the regular folks pictured above. This is the third Winter Olympiad for snowboarding, and thus, eight years of built-up Narrative are behind White. Skateboarding's first year would be a tabula rasa of hero building potential, so who's the man (or woman?)? PRod, Nyjah and Malto all come to mind, but can they achieve the anodyne heights of White? Sheckler would be amazing. Or would it be some vert dude. Who are they?

Mainstream coverage means warm to hot sports takes*, and moreover, normal tropes of sports coverage applied to skateboarding in two ways, as far as I can tell (once again through this snowboard lens). First, there'll be the reactionary hot-takey impulse column searching for that larger takeaway. "In a sport for the young, Shaun White shows all gods eventually fall," is by Bruce Arthur, who covers sport for Canada's National Post. Here's your lede:

"Gods fall. Gods get old, and younger gods come to take their place. Snowboarding is for the young, and some young gods of snowboard call their tricks YOLO and yell “YOLOOOOO” as they leave their gold medal press conference with the long wild flying hair of a Musketeer."
And, out with:
"And he gave credit to Podladtchikov, saying it was nice to see someone pushing the envelope of what’s possible. It was only one night, on crap snow, after so much glory. But it must have felt, just a little, like being replaced."
Mainstream coverage will also include some of the real-talk that some find lacking in old guard skateboard media. Yes, this post is White heavy, but then again, NBC decried that that's the way it'd be. "Why Snowboarders Hate Shaun White" is by Justin Peters and Josh Levin for Slate. It's not a real takedown, by any means, but it toes the line that often isn't approached in skateboard world (unless the subject is one of those who is "authorized" to be shit talked upon). Remove White's name and mad lib at will (keep in mind this piece was for Slate**):
"After a series of runs marked by uncharacteristic falls and slips, American snowboarder Shaun White finished in fourth place in the men’s halfpipe competition in Sochi this afternoon. This came as a disappointment to White, who was hoping to win his third consecutive men’s halfpipe gold, and presumably to NBC’s producers, who are now left scrambling to find a new cold-weather American Olympic hero. But the outcome likely thrilled many of Shaun White’s fellow snowboarders, because snowboarders, by and large, hate Shaun White.

Even though White is perhaps the best—and certainly the best-known—snowboarder in the world, he has never fit in with the sport’s mellow bro culture, in which everyone gets along and it’s gauche to admit that you care about victory."

Once again a lede, and then the kicker:
"...White has long been the unreachable standard, the one athlete pushing the sport and his fellow competitors to amazing heights. That’s precisely why his fellow snowboarders should be grateful that Shaun White exists: You need someone who’s fixated on winning to goad everyone else to improve. And that guy is probably not eating candy and watching Fight Club".
This all applies.

The refrain of "The writers never played the game" is rich with snowboard coverage and would most likely be magnified come skateboarding, though I know I'd appreciate some outside angles. At the very least, there'd be plenty of explainers such as this, and the comments with which they'd come.

*Say something sucks 15 different ways: Youwillsoon.com, late home of the hot skateboards take.
**#slatepitch falls apart because headline is incontrovertibly true and straightforward.


Anonymous said...

He totally should have gotten the bronze with that last run.

Just kidding.


Anonymous said...

The Olympics needs skateboarding more than we need the Olympics