Skateboarding isn’t a sport.
Recreational activity is more appropriate. The rise of 11-year-old Jagger Eaton only confirms this.
Tod Leonard of U-T San Diego reported that on Thursday, Eaton became the youngest competitor in X Games history when he participated in the Big Air Skateboard event. But he didn’t just show up—Eaton qualified for the finals and showed that he belonged.
And so did three other skateboarders under the age of 16.
What the quartet of youngsters is accomplishing is a phenomenal feat and they should be fully recognized for it. Each is worthy of incredible hype. But what does it say about the veteran skateboarders who are in the same competition as children who aren’t even in high school yet?
Keith Hamm of ESPN reported that skateboarding legend Bob Burnquist isn’t a fan of the injection of immaturity into the competition. He said:
Tom Schaar and Mitchie Brusco are 110 percent deserving to be [skating Big Air]. But you have to keep in mind that this is a professional contest, and you can't open it up to any kid who can jump the Mega. If [contest organizers] really want to do it that way, have a kids division.
Why isn’t Burnquist a fan? It makes him and other household names look like bums.
These meddling kids are flying down the same MegaRamp that Jake Brown almost died on in the 2007 X Games.
Just this past Tuesday, Burnquist thought he broke his back after he lost his board in midair above the half-pipe and slammed into the top of the ramp.
Last year, Mitchie Brusco became the youngest Big Air competitor ever at 14 years old and he finished fifth. At just 12 years old, Tom Schaar landed the first 1080 in competition ever. Name another major sport in which pre-teen and young teenage athletes are capable of competing with grown men three times as old as them.
In football, they’d die—literally. In basketball, they’d get jumped over—literally. In baseball and hockey, they could have all the skill in the world, but they still wouldn’t be ready to compete physically.
A human being’s physical ability peaks from 25-31 years old. It's science. Unlike every other athletic competition, skateboarders aren’t held back by their undeveloped bodies—they’re aided by them.
When Schaar landed his 1080 back in March, he weighed 80 pounds. Of course he’s going to get more hang time than Burnquist, who’s 100 pounds heavier than him.
If the X Games fails to make a kids division like Burnquist suggested, the
sport’s recreational activity’s credibility will never recover.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.