The Friday Interview – X Games & Dew Tour Answer The Questions: What About Dirt Jumping & Flatland?

The Friday Interview – X Games & Dew Tour Answer The Questions: What About Dirt Jumping & Flatland?
Interviews by Fat Tony.

Over the past few years riders all around the world have voiced their opinions on the comments on this site, on Facebook and Twitter, and through countless petitions about how they feel about X Games not including dirt jumping, and X Games and Dew Tour not including flatland in their event lineups. We went straight to the sources and got both X Games and Dew Tour to answer some questions about the subject…Both say they are open to feedback, so please leave some thought out comments on this article so they can see what you guys have to say.

An Interview With X Games

Name: Tim Reed
Title/Position: Sr. Director Content Strategy
Years Working For X Games: Started X Games 3, 1997

Can you give us a brief history lesson of BMX at X Games?
1995 – BMX Dirt, Vert included in original eXtreme Games
1996 – Park added
1997 – Flatland added
1998 – Vert Doubles added
1999 – Vert Doubles eliminated
2001 – Downhill BMX added
2004 – Downhill BMX, Flatland eliminated
2006 – BMX Big added, Vert Best Trick added
2007 – Vert Best Trick eliminated, BMX Dirt eliminated
2008 – BMX Street added

A look at how X Games used to present flatland to the masses versus how modern-day flatland contests are presenting flatland to the fans.

What roll does BMX play at X Games? Where does it fit into the big picture of the event?
BMX plays a large role. It is one of four sports included at X Games 17, and one of two sports that has been part of X Games since 1995. The others are Moto X, Skateboard, and Rally. Within BMX we have 4 disciplines—Street, Park, Vert and Big Air.

Who has been the “voice” for BMX riders with ESPN and X Games over the years?
The X Games have worked with HSA (Hoffman Sports Association) since 1995 and they’ve been our main conduit to the BMX community.

An overview of the 2006 X Games Dirt course—the last year Dirt was included at X Games.

Generally speaking, why have certain BMX events been added and dropped from X Games over the years?
Generally speaking we add and drop sports in order to align the X Games with the sports and disciplines that our fans want to see live at the venue and on TV, as well as reflect the current state of action sports. Like any organization we also have to work within available resources to produce the event.

More specifically, why was flatland riding taken out of the X Games in 2004?
X Games had seven successful years of BMX Flatland. Our evaluation of sports in the X Games include a sport’s progression, growth and infrastructure, as well as a review of viewership, spectator, demographic, and psychographic as they pertain to that sport. Results of those factors led ESPN to the decision of not including Flatland anymore at X Games.

An example of flatland in X Games from 2000.

An example of flatland on MTV Japan in 2007.

…And why was dirt jumping taken out of the X Games in 2007?
It was a function of us needing to do new things with the event, and when we add new elements, unfortunately things have to be eliminated at times. The diligence we did lead to us dropping dirt. Ultimately fan interest and our ability to build a dirt course that would be cutting edge at that time was not possible.

Can you explain some of the process that goes on when X Games decides to add new events or remove existing events?
The process is an on going exercise to make sure that we are delivering the best event we can to the fans both at the venue and on TV. We continually evaluate the sports and disciplines. In addition to making sure that the current events are in line with what our fans want, we always keep an eye on the progression within action sports. If a new sport or discipline potentially makes sense we’ll do the necessary diligence to make sure that it will work at X Games and represents the true state of that sport within the industry as a whole—ESPN communicates with the athletes, the industry, and the builders to make sure we can deliver. When we drop disciplines it is due to a variety of reasons such as limited participation, limited progression in the sport or an inability to create the proper venue for the athletes to perform. Again, this is part of the evolution, and if we want to add new events, the reality is we have a finite amount of programming time and unfortunately events need to be eliminated at times.

Ryan Nyquist winning a silver medal in X Games 12 at the Dirt Jumping event.

We see more motorsports getting into the competition line up at X Games…can you explain the current direction of X Games as a whole in regards to what kind of events they include?
We added Freestyle Moto X in 1999, so it has been a big part of the X Games for more than 10 years now and Rally will have its fifth year at X Games 17. We’ve also recently added BMX Street, Skate Park, and Real Street to name a few. So, although motorsports are important, BMX and Skate remain a major part of the event. Ultimately, the mix of all these sports allows X Games to be a very unique event to our fans. Nowhere else can you see the blend of all these sports at one event and we want to continue that.

I’m sure people at X Games have heard (or seen/read) the BMX community over the years asking about bringing flatland and dirt jumping back…What is the internal reaction at the organization to these requests, begs, and pleads?
The X Games organization is a big fan of both Flatland and Dirt Jumping. We feel we helped grow awareness for those disciplines when they were part of the X Games and unfortunately we had to make the tough choice to eliminate those events. Once a sport is dropped, it does not mean it will never return to X Games. As mentioned earlier, there are several factors that would need to align to bring a sport back.

Corey Bohan won a gold medal at the last three X Games Dirt Jumping events, and even though he is still competing in the Park contests these days, he would definitely love to see Dirt brought back into the X Games lineup. Photo by Fat.

How much do petitions and letters to the organization effect what you X Games decides to do with the events?
It’s always good to hear and be reminded, so I would keep them coming. And ESPN has always made the athletes and our communication with them a priority, so we welcome feedback.

Is there anything the BMX community could do at this point to have X Games consider bringing back flatland and dirt jumpings?
Keep the sports progressing and keep kids participating, and if the right opportunity presents itself, it may make sense to include those disciplines, but for X Games 17 we are looking forward to showcasing Park, Street, Vert and Big Air.

(Click page 2 of this article to read an interview with Chris Prybylo from Dew Tour.)