Newly Xtreme: ‘Call of Duty’ and 4 Offbeat X Games Alumni
First off, the facts. At the Austin X Games, slated for early June, Call of Duty will join skateboarding, BMX, and Moto X (pronounced “motocross”) in the ranks of ESPN-sanctioned “extreme” sports. The X Games have long acted as an enthusiastic co-option center for all kinds of youth culture, keeping events market tested, safe for Mom, and largely designed to sub-textually help sports drink corporations and shoe conglomerates infiltrate their way into the homes of non-traditional athletes everywhere.
In other words, the X Games have always been trend chasers. Seen from this angle, the notion that this is somehow controversial or that video gamers aren’t athletes doesn’t matter — although the fact that competitive gamers act like traditionally competitive athletes (link is NSFW due to language) does distance them from the stars of the other sports that tend to populate the X Games, with the possible exception of Shaun White.
This isn’t a surprise. In the eSport event’s inaugural press release, the X Games quoted Executive Vice President of Sales Don Reilley as saying: “The popularity of competitive gaming and the [Major League Gaming] Pro Circuit is at an all-time high with millions watching the best gamers compete each month on MLG.tv. This collaboration with X Games will help further bring MLG to the mainstream while we provide advertisers with quality exposure and deep engagement with our fan base on MLG.tv across all platforms.”
So while the X Games looks for the cool new thing to show off and the MLG looks to expand the fan base of its sport/pastime/whatever, we’ve decided to look at four events that are no longer cool enough — or profitable enough — for ESPN and the X Games.