Shaun White's injury is bad enough to keep him from participating in the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle event at the Winter X Games. For ESPN and the organizers of the event, they had better hope that he doesn't miss anything else.
The good news is that White expects to be good to go. Colin Bane of XGames.com quoted White saying as much.
I'm disappointed. My priority this year was to ride in Slopestyle, and unfortunately I hit my ankle again riding the course in today's practice...I'm going to rest up and get ready to ride Pipe on Sunday.
White is far and away the biggest star of the X Games. It is still a niche event, at least when it comes following on television. If the X Games is ever going to grow out of that, then the crossover stars need to be there to appeal to the mainstream fans.
People know and like White. If they didn't, he wouldn't be in commercials that have nothing to do with what makes him famous.
But outside of White, what else is there for people who aren't fans of extreme sports? In a word, nothing. Sports like that only grow when different kinds of people want to watch the biggest stars. Obviously, if the biggest star isn't competing, there is no star to watch.
With White participating, the X Games not only gets its biggest star in action, but people watching that star also get to watch the best in the world.
Even if you're not a fan of snowboarding, you know what an Olympic Gold Medal represents. So, when people tune in to watch White, they get to watch all of the other best snowboarders in the world. In turn, they may fall in love with a sport that they previously were essentially unaware of.
It just takes a few of those people to grow the sport. But without White, that's not going to happen. So, the X Games had better be hope he meets his goal and does the Pipe on Sunday. Without White, the Games stay in place.