ABC News did a report on the progression of snowboarding following Kevin Pearce’s crash in the halfpipe that happened on New Year’s Eve in Park City. (Watch it here) The report focused mostly on the level of difficulty that the tricks have reached and how quickly the sport has advanced. It was a basic report until Christine Brennen, an ABC news consultant, was invited into the conversation. She immediately stated that snowboarding has no worth other than TV ratings. She alleges that the only reason snowboarding was allowed into the Olympics was to get more, younger viewers. Christine goes on to suggest that snowboarding needs a board of directors to regulate the maneuvers that would be allowed in competition to ensure the safety level of the tricks that the competitors would be attempting.
Progression is a natural course of life. To suggest that anything, much less snowboarding, should be regulated and held back from reaching its potential is utterly absurd. Life requires a forward motion and without it we would all have a life without purpose and eventually we would cease to exist.
I know that this report in infuriating on many levels to all snowboards and even those beyond the sport, but I would encourage everyone to pay no mind to these allegations. There could never possibly be an attempt to stifle and regulate snowboarding because to do so would require the same for every sport. Christine may see snowboarding as merely TV ratings, but millions of people around the world would resolutely disagree.
I personally see snowboarding as a sport that has positively affected this world on a business level, a social level and on a personal level. On the business level, snowboarding should be commended. In this time when the economy is suffering and there is little to be done to stimulate it, the snowboarding industry has boldly stood strong. When many other companies were forced to cut back and sacrifice numerous people’s well being the snowboard industry has worked in such a way to keep its business lucrative. Snowboard companies have found alternate outlets to continue to provide customers and fans with what they are asking for, even when money is low.
Snowboarding has provided a large number of jobs to people that are passionate about what they do. There are countless kinds of businesses that function under the umbrella of the snowboard industry some of which include resorts, magazines, local shops, online shops, travel and tourism businesses, franchises but probably the biggest and most successful of them all are the companies that manufacture and produce their own brand of snowboard equipment and gear. The CEOs and presidents of these companies should be praised for their accomplishments as they successfully and efficiently operate multimillion dollar businesses and most of them are pretty young compared to the rest of the business world.
For these brands to operate successfully they require highly educated and forward thinking professionals. They need engineers of special areas of interest to continually, every year, come up with new technology for the equipment that will further enhance the performance for each specific riding style of the snowboarder. They require chemists to be fully knowledgeable of the elements, materials and composites that are used to form and enhance their equipment. They require marketing experts, sales representatives, international business specialists, Web development teams and IT, public relations and so on.
Outside of those companies the industry continues to require highly skilled and talented professionals. Fashion designers have a full time job to stay ahead of the trends not only in America but in different cultures with different tastes around the world. Filming companies and photographers are in a steady battle with the ever changing weather conditions to get the perfect shot, find a new angle or incorporate a new element all while making sure the rider is in the right light. Journalists, writers and editors are constantly on the move to keep up with the amazing stories that are being lived each day. But the profession that demands the most respect and talent is that of the professional snowboarders. They have little time to be home with family as they are required to travel around the globe chasing after perfect weather conditions, ideal riding locations and to compete in events that can sometimes attract more than 50,000 spectators.
The social benefits of snowboarding go far beyond what any of us can even recognize. The snowboard industry has generated more worldly communication and intercultural interactions and understanding than many industries would even hope to rival. It has created a constructive outlet for children to form interactive bonds with friends that video games cannot offer. Snowboarding provides an opportunity for families to take trips together and cut out the stresses of life and focus on each other as they spend time together on the slopes. Snowboarding encourages friendly and supportive competition. It is customary in snowboard contests, or even in leisurely riding, to provide the inspiration, advice and positive reinforcement needed for a difficult trick or for those just learning to ride. Many valuable social skills can also be learned from the interactions that come along with snowboarding.
On a personal level many riders see snowboarding as an intangible passion. There are so many people that share this love for the sport and are able to connect with one another on that stage. Snowboarding can change the way a person chooses to live or how they see the world. It encourages creativity, healthy living and environmental awareness and can affect us body, mind and soul. How snowboarding affects an individual is uniquely different for each rider. For some it may just be a hobby with no second thought, but for others it is a way of life.
When looking from the outside in it is easily understandable that people like Christine Brennen will be scared when they see how quickly a new sport like snowboarding is progressing. These people may lash out in different ways to try and contain the sport within their comfort levels, but no person or group on earth can stop the natural forward movement of life. They could no sooner tell mankind to stop their technological and scientific advancements simply because it is beyond what they are used to.
Being angry about reports like these will only fuel their flame and play into the hand they are dealing. The more attention we give to foolish notions like these the more attention there will be attracted to either side of the battle. The best response we can offer is to keep on supporting one another positively and let the magazines, brand names, riders and any other snowboard company know how much we appreciate what they are doing for us as snowboarders and for our industry. Every snowboarder has helped to create a productive industry that we can all take pride in and no matter what anyone says they can’t take that away from us.