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At what point should traditional sports franchises consider diversifying into this booming new market?

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.

Exoskeleton Tech

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

1-5 Years

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.

5-10 Years

Robot Experiments

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.

10-25 Years

Sports Zones

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.

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