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Xtremely Xasperating
Richard Hoffer
November 16, 1998
A traditionalist wonders when the kids will get bored with all the boardin'
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November 16, 1998

Xtremely Xasperating

A traditionalist wonders when the kids will get bored with all the boardin'

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This about tears it. Not only are the kids listening to the rock-and-roll, but they're also watching the extreme games, the antigravity games, probably the Lolapalooza games. They've become so addled by the rock-and-roll they think that somebody falling out of a plane with a plank strapped to his dogs is playing a sport! Oh, here's another one: street luge. Somebody straps a plank to his back (who's making these damn planks!) and rockets downhill.

Now, what in the world is wrong with football, men colliding on industrial carpet for possession of a leather ball? Or baseball, where people while away an afternoon standing in a kind of a field? Those are sports, with the weight of history and good, clean fun behind them. But what with the rock-and-roll and also Game Boy, you can't get through to the kids anymore. Son, sit down, let's watch a little NASCAR. Noooo, it's around the dial to wakeboarding.

It's drugs, most likely. That and the rock-and-roll and the computer games. Kids today would no more sit still for a good golf tournament than for an SAT review. Sadly, TV, which will do anything for a dollar, is endorsing this generational estrangement, putting on these extreme games in which all kinds of kids are flying around on planks and announcers talk in a foreign language. What is phat? What is big air? Here's the latest development: NBC, instead of showing football on Sunday afternoons, is planning a season of Gravity Games. This is for the "lost generation," says NBC sports chairman Dick Ebersol.

ESPN is in its fifth year of X Games and has done so well at capturing the lost generation that everybody is going after that demographic. MTV is in its second season with the Sports Music Festival. (It combines—combines—the rock-and-roll and the motocross.) You say, Well, that's cable. But now, with Monday Night Football ratings off and the World Series tanking, the major networks are panicking, and NBC will be showing 720-degree frontside airs instead of safety blitzes.

Here's the joke. Twenty years from now the kids won't like the rock-and-roll, the Game Boy or the drugs. Bungee-jumping won't seem so relevant. An afternoon on the couch, with some chips and a six-pack, might seem more like it. They'll see: There's nothing like watching a man in madras slacks stand over an eight-foot putt. And eating the chips and drinking the beer (maybe getting phat, but what the heck). It's what grownups do. They'll see. They'll all see.

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