However, the more I ponder over this worry, I have to question whether BMX needs "saving". The more I think about it, the more I compare BMX to that one uncle - you know - THAT uncle. The dude that started off very well, had a good head on his shoulders and stayed in line. But as the years came on, he got into a little trouble, never could hold down a job... and now just kind of meanders along through life - somehow surviving - working odd jobs, getting involved in multi-level marketing insurance and pre-paid legal sales, living with his girlfriend in a studio apartment. THAT uncle, who can't be classified as a loser, because he's not. In fact, he's kind of an anti-hero. Street smart. Cunning. A survivor. Everybody loves him.
THAT uncle, who your mom is always nagging, "You need to find yourself a good woman...". He'll throw on a dress shirt and a tie to make ends meet, but he hates it. Everybody adores THAT uncle, but also wouldn't trust him with house sitting.
BMX is THAT uncle. From the very get-go, BMX was never intended to be a superstar. Quite possibly, during the 80's - when BMX was a superstar - we felt great about that, which is why many of us older riders get so nostalgic. But let's remember our roots - our sport was born out of disdain towards conformity, rigidity and structure. Sure, the AFA did a fine job back in those days and many superstars came to light during that time. However, let's recall what happened in the 90's, when no support for BMX was given except by riders, yet superstars just didn't come into light at that time - legends and icons were born. BMX tricks became sophisticated, difficult, and pushed boundaries beyond anything we could possibly conceive 10 years prior. Rider owned companies like S&M came alive and revolutionized frame design.
In the late 90's and early 2000's, events like the Dew Tour brought hype back into BMX. But let's recall what has happened with that - limited coverage and the complete throw away of flatland. Now, riders can only attend these big corporate events by invite only, so by time they weed out the local heroes and the pros that did not qualify, viewers only get glimpse of the entirety of our sport. In other words, we have no "Cru Jones" anymore in regards to these massive, corporate sponsored events.
But, BMX is cunning and self-preserving. Today, we have something that we never had before - and that is global access to each other via the internet. In a sense, BMX has done what it has always done - we said "Fuck you - we're doing it ourselves, for ourselves..." and therefore you see the most amazing videos, photos and intelligent written articles for us, by us. Jams are held by riders, sponsored by rider owned companies, which gives opportunity for the Cru Jones's of the world to bask in glory. Then, us bloggers, photographers and videographers - for little or no money - spread it virally throughout the world so some kid in Japan/Mexico/UK/etc. can attempt to top what he just saw.
In the 80's we had essentially one female rider that made it in the magazines - China Krys Darrington (we knew her as Krys Dauchy) - who was (and is) the most beautiful thing us teenage BMX boys laid eyes on. But now, there are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS, of female shredders out there who throw down just as good, if not better, than their male counterparts. Magnolia BMX does a fantastic job of promoting female BMX riding - not because it's this huge sanctioning body or corporate sponsor, but because female riders decided to create such a website. And... it's beautiful.
BMX economy sucks. I hate it when I see my friends' companies and shops fail due to this. I was very saddened when I saw that The Bicycle Source had to shut its doors and those indoor ramps I enjoyed so much got demolished. Steve, Monica and crew were so sweet to me and my friends when we visited - true BMX family without ever meeting us prior. Those who are brave enough to enter the business of BMX don't do it to get rich, they do it because they love BMX with the dream of making a honest living.
BMX survives, though. And while these downturns hurt and feels like it is dying, it is not. It is growing. And it is not growing because of some large sanctioning organization, huge corporate sponsor or some rock star BMX rider (although Nigel Sylvester is getting a lot of press these days for his work with rapper/singer Pharrell) - it is growing because of our global connectedness. We can now communicate with each other in a way that we were never able to do - the internet gets blamed for all the negative shit that revolves around BMX, but rarely looked at the positive effect it has had on our sport.
Let's use this tool to keep it living and surviving. I feel blessed to now witness the most incredible, innovative and intelligent riding and bike technology I've ever seen - all from right here. Not only is the riding amazing, but the artistic video editing, music, design and cinematography that comes with it.
So... why are we so sad? These are the continual growing pains we will always feel - simply because we are constantly growing - we will never stop. Change perspective of this "low point". It really isn't low - it is beyond the clouds.