By 2020, extreme sports will challenge professional and collegiate team sports for the title of most-watched category of sports content. With 100 hours of GoPro video currently being uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day, and sales of action cameras growing nearly 50% annually and projected to hit 9 million in 2018, the extreme sports juggernaut looks unstoppable.
Personal sports media production
Competitive feedback loops
GoPro is the fun equalizer. On video, it is no longer a competition for who is fastest or biggest — but for who is having the most fun. GoPro enables a platform for people to do things that are cooler than established sports allow. Collectively, the extreme sports fanbase is definitely as big as any national team’s fanbase.
MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant” Recipient MIT Media Lab Ph.D., Co-Founder of Otherlab, Makani Power, Optiopia, Potenco, Instructables, Howtoons, and Squid Labs
|Degrees rotated||Platform Diving||Skiing||Snowboarding||Skateboarding|
Improving over an incremental record (100m dash)
Extreme + Adventure Sports
Innovating and pioneering — expanding and creating new fields of competition
Winning the iconic competition (Super Bowl)
Extreme + Adventure Sports
Creating an iconic and transcendent moment through extreme expression of sport
Extrinsically motivated by the nature of organized competition and coaches
Extreme + Adventure Sports
Self-determined and intrinsically motivated
Fueled by easy recording and upload technology like GoPro — paired with YouTube and over-the-top broadcasters — interest, participation, and performance levels in action sports are soaring. Today they’re a blip on the screen compared to the big business of professional sports, but participation in action and adventure sports has surpassed conventional sports at the recreational level.
And it’s not just online video driving that growth. San Francisco-based Strava Inc. is the foremost example of the competitive feedback loop underlying the explosion of action sports participation. Outdoor athletes track their performances via Strava’s apps or their own biometric devices, then upload their results to Strava’s database, which becomes a de facto book of records for every trail run and every 100-mile route biked — a standing, always-on challenge that drives performance levels higher daily.
A group that includes owners of the Boston Celtics and San Francisco 49ers recently placed a bet on the explosion of interest in action sports by investing in Street League Skateboarding, a professional circuit headed by skater and MTV star Rob Dyrdek.
Dozens of new sports will emerge. In 20 years, sports like skysurfing will look as old-fashioned as the shot put. Advances in exoskeletons, prosthetics, and, yes, rocket packs will herald a golden age of new sporting competitions.
Exoskeletons will be implemented at first for their incredible enhancement of athlete protection, followed by motorized advances that increase strength and speed.
Threat to The Growth of Action Sports
Limited access — “Not on my wave”
- With the growth and popularity of sports like surfing, skiing, and snowboarding, access to the critical and finite resource — good, uncrowded conditions — is limited.
- The best surf spots across the South Pacific are turning into private resorts, such as the ones in the Mentawai Islands and Fiji.
- In addition, when we consider climate change over the next decade, what sports will either cease to exist or be forced to change location?
The endless, perfectly shaped wave is coming to inland communities and will open access to thousands of new surfers. The WaveGarden was prototyped in central Spain, and a full production facility opened in 2015 in North Wales, UK.
Previously unrideable waves are being conquered with a polarizing new technology, the jet-powered surfboard. In November 2014, famous multi-sport Maui athlete Kai Lenny rode the massive Jaws surf break going to the left — long considered too dangerous even for tow-in surfers. He rode it safely and escaped the inside rocks on the JetSurf board.
Examples of The Emergence of New Action Sports
Skydiving: outer-space diving
Triathlons: Tough Mudder obstacle races
Extreme skiing: skiing with a parachute canopy
Predicting the Future
eXtreme Sports League
The Red Bull team faces off against the Mountain Dew team in the newly formed XSL – eXtreme Sports League. Individual athletes and small groups band together and compete across the globe in a year-round cycle. Some of the competitions are in the same place, while others are held in disparate skateparks — the action is stitched together using augmented reality, which provides a single viewing experience. Social platforms for athletes, like today’s Strava, enable athletes to document and share their constant progressions. All of the competitions and video highlights are served up on a NFL Red Zone-style stream of extreme highlights.
Let the robot try it first…In an effort to keep progressing extreme and emerging sports, athletes and technologists team up to make their daily experiments just a bit safer. Imagine an athletic robot to demonstrate a big-air snow-boarding 1800-degree trick or a BASE jump equipped with the latest wingsuit. Onboard cameras and sensors capture the forces like angular momentum, and physical cues like spotting the landing zone. It becomes a learning experience for the athlete to see and feel how the trick can be executed.
More athletes and adventure teams make use of newly created sports zones in national wilderness areas under the Bureau of Land Management. Self-maintaining, sustainable terrain parks open up. Extreme sports injuries diminish as the use of robotic exoskeletons becomes the norm. Self-powered body suits not only increase performance but protect against debilitating injuries deep in the backcountry.