No Women’s BMX at X Games | Athletes demand competition, not demos

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Female BMX riders have criticised X Games for failing to provide a women’s competition for BMX, despite previous successful demo events.

Story updated 22 July with quote from multi-time X Games medallist, Ryan Nyquist.

X Games, which offers competition in a range of ‘Street’ sports, has previously run demo events for women’s BMX, which the riders say have been successful. Indeed, with BMX Park featuring at the next Olympics, there’s more and more interest in the sport – and more funding.

Last year, US rider and 2017 UCI BMX Freestyle Women’s World Champion, Hannah Roberts, declined her invite to the event but with this year seeing no progress towards introducing a medal event, other riders have formed a boycott. Hannah told us:

“I think it’s crazy that X Games can’t see the progression of women’s BMX in the last few years. It has been a long road and we still have a long way to go but giving us the same answer year after year and giving ridiculous reasons like the level is not there, or there’s no room in the schedule is just a slap in the face. As women, it feels like we have to work twice as hard to prove ourselves as athletes even though we put in the same work and have the same love {for the sport} as the men. I’m still in shock women have a chance to bring home a medal from the Olympics and not X Games and it’s 2019.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz8rIC_Cg85/

The riders argue that another demo event instead of a full competition is disrespectful, and that the athletes have earned a proper competition and medal event through their years of ‘practice sessions’ and demo events. Plus, it’s 2019… Equal pay is great, but you can’t get paid equally if you can’t compete or work equally: equality of opportunity is still needed.

Quotes purporting to be from X Games have been shared on social media, although an X Games spokesperson told us that they were not from any official spokesperson for either ESPN or X Games, and they weren’t sure where they had come from. X Games did however issue us with the following statement:

“Specific sports disciplines are reviewed and adjusted regularly based on many factors, including participation levels, competitive levels, relevance, programming needs, overall industry schedules and top-level athlete availability – to name a few. The X Games has featured a complement of sports disciplines – more than 100 in total over our 25-year history – that have continuously been evaluated and evolved.

“We‘ve enjoyed having Women’s BMX Park athletes at X Games in recent years, and unfortunately, women’s BMX Park athletes declined to participate in a third-consecutive year of demos at X Games Minneapolis. We will, however, continue to monitor how the women’s BMX landscape evolves for potential inclusion at future X Games events.”

We understand that invited riders have previously been given accommodation and some funds for attending, but we can see that the presence of other BMX competitions for women – such as the Vans BMX Pro Cup and the Olympics – means that there are other opportunities to earn both cash and medals. With that in mind, there’s more to be lost to injury and time off the bike – making the risk/reward for a demo event perhaps a little less appealing.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz8o59LD_cC/

Nina Buitrago, who helped start the women’s BMX events at X Games, told The Bloom BMX (a BMX website started by pro riders Angie Marino and Beatrice Trang):

In 2014 the relationship began with “Practice sessions” they sometimes referred to as demos, but to be clear, in the most recent conversation according to X Games, they were officially practice sessions, started off with 4 women, on the street course at the same time with the men for a few hours. Every year I tried to push for an official event, got denied then pushed again for them to at least allow a few more women to attend and also for it to be moved to the park course and out of the men’s way.”

Nina told us:

“They have been so nice to us over the years offering us to have a presence at all with no medal event, but the fact of the matter is, I cannot get the women to do another demo with the road to the Olympics ahead, the Vans BMX Pro Cup series, FISEWorld… it’s been a long time I’ve been trying to work with X games to make this happen so it’s a hard battle to walk away from but I stand with the women on this. “

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz8feaAlxlR/
https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz8qNJVBC9C/

Ryan Nyquist, pro mountain bike and BMX rider, and winner of 16 previous X Games medals told us:

If the women can have an event in the Olympics, then there’s no reason why they couldn’t have an event at X Games. The tricks are there, the progression is there, and they’ve definitely put their time in by doing demos since 2005.

With BMX, skate parks and pump tracks being an ideal, relatively cheap and accessible bike option for our increasingly urbanised population, it’s not surprise to see the sport growing. The forthcoming Olympic debut in 2020 will surely see more interest – and more sponsorship. Certainly, Five Ten and Adidas have clocked the potential of Olympic BMX to grow their market and are already designing to meet anticipated trends. Will the events that have been the underground or indie scene for so long move with the times? There are a number of men and companies on Instagram speaking out to support the women, but will it be left to the female riders to make a stand, or will the guys be joining them?

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz_DDyjnaaB/

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Hannah Dobson

Hannah came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. Having worked in policy and project management roles at the Scottish Parliament and in local government, Hannah had organisational skills that SIngletrack needed. She also likes bikes, and likes to write.

Hannah likes all bikes, but especially unusual ones. If it’s a bit odd, or a bit niche, or made of metal, she’s probably going to get excited. If it gets her down some steep stuff, all the better. She’ll give most things a go once, she tries not to say no to anything on a bike, unless she really thinks it’s going to hurt. She’s pretty good with steri-strips.

More than bikes, Hannah likes what bikes do. She thinks that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments.

Hannah tries to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

Comments (17)

    Just make stuff inclusive. It’s not rocket science, is it?

    Maybe it is not that easy?

    Without actual viewership and money figures following the article it is a bit difficult to say if that is really malicious intent in Organizers mind or interest is not big enough to generate enough income to cover it.

    What people tend to miss completely is the fact that apart of advancing sport these ventures are mainly commercial endeavors and they are supposed to generate money for Organizers.

    I like seeing female athletes competing or showing their proves at the highest level but what if there is not enough people like me to make it tick financially?

    Cheers!
    I.

    It’s a similar story in the UCI World Downhill Championships, only recently at Les Gets the juniors were mainly dropping into an empty finishing arena, it’s as if they are just event fillers, looking at some of the above photo’s the same seems to be happening, is it that nobody is interested or that the organisers have little or no respect for the athletes, they should shake up the schedule so as to include EVERYONE no matter the gender or ability.

    Maybe the women could start their own event and invest their time and money into that. They’ll soon see if there is an audience or market for it.

    “but what if there is not enough people like me to make it tick financially?”

    Then it would somehow be unlike every other sport I can think of.

    “Then it would somehow be unlike every other sport I can think of.”

    Indeed – you just have to look at the MASSIVE success of the Women’s World Cup to realise that real interest in women competing at the top of their game is unequivocally out there.

    “It’s a similar story in the UCI World Downhill Championships, only recently at Les Gets the juniors were mainly dropping into an empty finishing arena,”

    But they were still COMPETING. It’s up the audience to decide which event it wants to watch, but the Juniors were still there, and racing.

    Does there actually need to be a separate women’s event? I would have thought that with a discipline like freestyle guys and girls could compete in one open field. Or am I just over-simplifying things?

    When BMX had been ignored in the past the solution has been the riders taking control and owning the situation. Unfortunately it looks like X ganes has become the establishment. BMX need to do what BMX does well and take control. Women of BMX should do their own event. No matter that it’s out side X games. Build it and they will come.

    “Maybe the women could start their own event and invest their time and money into that. They’ll soon see if there is an audience or market for it.”

    Comps are not just about money. It’s also for the enjoyment of the event. Promotion of the sport. For the community (BMX community in this case)

    “you just have to look at the MASSIVE success of the Women’s World Cup”

    Ermmm… I would first check the numbers before making such declarations… Plenty of sources on the tinternet and looks like it was not as big as some try very hard to present…

    “Comps are not just about money.”
    Yeah, but I do not believe anybody would like to organize it for free. And then next thing we would hear would be demands for equal pay.
    And unfortunately money is not growing on the trees.
    Sounds like vicious circle but that’s the way today’s world is operating I’m afraid.

    Cheers!
    I.

    You have obviously never been to one of the many grass routes skate or BMX comps and jams that are completely not for money.

    You are right, I’ve never been.

    But that is not the point.

    I believe we are discussing X-Games, not some small, friends and palls only, local or super secret jam in some undisclosed to the wider public location.

    It is purely diverting from the main subject.

    And main subject is: is it commercially viable for X-Games Organizers to introduce female BMX comps? Or we are talking about deliberate discrimination because of sex that is maliciously performed by X-Game Orgs?

    Cheers!
    I.

    That’s how everything starts. Small. If women are being blocked out of the X games doing your own comp is a good way of sticking two fingers up at it. Taking control, rider run.

    Again, that is all true. Starting small and growing, but that is not the point of the article.

    Point is female athletes are “demanding” X-Games comps.

    Back to my still unanswered question. Is that not viable commercial option or X-Games is simply discriminating female rides?

    Cheers!
    I.

    “Ermmm… I would first check the numbers before making such declarations… Plenty of sources on the tinternet and looks like it was not as big as some try very hard to present…”

    Ermmm… Probably better if you didn’t assume I was speaking from a position of ignorance.

    http://www.sportspromedia.com/analysis/womens-world-cup-2019-rapinoe-uswnt-viewing-figures-marketing

    Over to you to quibble about the definition of “massive”…

    There you have it, some facts to “quibble” about…

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2019/03/07/world-cup-soccer-pay-disparity-between-men-and-women-is-justified/#22d1eda86da4

    131 million USD generated by Female World Cup for FIFA in 2019.
    Compare it to 6.1 billion USD from 2018 Men World Cup.

    I’m not questioning the fact of Female Sports growing, but I would be very careful with such a descriptions like “massive”. Once put into perspective it might look a bit different.

    Cheers!
    I.

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