It was a crazy action sports weekend with ASR and Agenda ending in San Diego”, and the Winter X Games wrapping up Sunday January 27th in Aspen. As snow blanketed the mountains in Colorado, ESPN delivered a tight package of winter action sports drama with Shaun White stomping the Men’s Superpipe with a frontside big air, front and backside 1080’s, and a frontside 1260 at the very bottom of the pipe, beating out Japanese phenom Ryo Aono.
“It feels medieval, White said. “It feels so great, man.” Shaun also announced the signing of a 10-year contract with Burton –the longest term contract in snowboarding history.
In women’s X Games events, Gretchen Bleiler, a two-time ESPN Winter X Games gold medal winner in the Women’s Snowboard SuperPipe, made it three with a monster run that fended off a late-game challenge by Aussie shredder Torah Bright. Bleiler, who currently graces the cover of ESPN The Magazine and is the first female action sports athlete to do so, put down back-to-back 720s, stuck a crippler 540, and getting massive amplitude throughout the run. Torah Bright out of Australia completed a final run including a switch McTwist 720 and a McTwist 540, but her 92.66 couldn’t catch Bleiler’s mark. Kelly Clark won bronze with a first run of 90.00 %u2013 then attempted to land an unprecedented- in-competition 1080, which she narrowly missed.
In addition, sports included Snowboarding and Skiing Big Air, Skiing and Snowboarding Slopestyle, and Snowmobiling Snowcross.
When it comes to the X Games, as most people in action sports realize, the fans are passionate both on-site and online. Shaun White recognized this when he said after his gold medal in the Superpipe, “The best part of X Games is the crowd. Man, you’re getting ready to take your run and you hear everybody cheering at the bottom.”
Big Air also attracts a crowd-capacity onsite audience and viewership on ABC and ESPN, and online blows up for the days of the X Games (either winter or summer). In addition this year, Skiing and Snowboarding Big Air had a category for people to text in their favorite tricks and actually vote for the winners.
Which brings us to the Olympics and their launch of the Youth Olympic Games in 2010 and Winter Youth Games in 2012 and their struggling game-plan to basically get more hip. I’m probably one of the few people who has actually read The IOC Committee Report on the Youth Games where they actually say that their goals for these Games, which are for 14-18-year-olds is to 1) Integrate youth-relevant sports into the Olympic program (but they have ironically NOT included snowboarding into the winter games); 2) Make urban culture a part of the Olympics; and 3) Increase interaction between athletes and young people view “new media channels.” As we’ve written about several times, their attempts at capturing the X Games crowd and revitalizing the Olympics in general among youth culture is palpable. See next story.
However, as hard as the Olympics try to be relevant today, data from our North American Youth Culture Studies continues to reflect that sports watching has changed dramatically, especially as skateboarders and snowboarders are now becoming mom’s and dads. Many action sports rank among the top sports that young people most want to watch on TV. Which indicates often how out of touch most TV programming is, not to mention newspaper coverage, and of course, the Olympics.
When asked, “Which is your favorite sport to watch?” among 13-25-year-olds across North America, the #1 sport to watch is Football at 28.5%, followed by Baseball at 11.4%, Soccer at 10.6%, Hockey at 10.3%, Skateboarding at 9.2%, and Basketball at 6.4%. Interesting to note is that Snowboarding has also increased as a favorite sport to watch at 3.1% and continues to trek higher especially after the Olympic Games 2 years ago and the U.S. winning snowboarding team. However while Football is #1, many young people say they watch certain sports even if they don’t participate in them or want to learn them, because it’s what their parents watch on TV (usually fathers) and that can control TV sports viewing patterns. As we’ve also quantified in entertainment patterns in general however is that many young people watch things on their computers rather than TV because they have more control.
By gender, it’s interesting to note that among action sports, Skateboarding is high for both genders, as well as Snowboarding and Surfing, particularly among females. By age groups, there are notable favorites that should be also be looked at by viewing the charts. There are also specific correlations, for example, Soccer tends to decrease the older the age group, indicating that there’s a new generation that is into watching Soccer which may change patterns in the future. In addition, Skateboarding now peaks among 21-25-year- olds at 11.3% of this age group indicating that an entirely new generation is into watching Skateboarding. Sports to note also include Snowboarding and Motocross for where they tend to peak among various age groups indicating strong attractions within certain target markets.
Overall, by looking at the top favorite sports to watch by gender and age groups, you can determine where young people are watching sports and also compare demographics for market opportunities through sports, such as Skateboarding among an older age group now, for example. In addition, the higher percentages among females than males for watching some sports should also be noted since there is often the misperception that males tend to watch sports in general in higher percentages.
For more information on Sports and Entertainment patterns among youth culture in North America, Europe, Japan, and China, contact us about our new Premium Global Youth Culture Subscription for 2008; firstname.lastname@example.org; (323) 630- 4000.