Amped: How Big Air, Big Dollars, and a New Generation Took Sports to the Extreme

Amped: How Big Air, Big Dollars, and a New Generation Took Sports to the Extreme

by David Browne
     
 

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Once a Fringe Underground culture, skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX biking, and freestyle motocross are now the stuff of car commercials and Olympic competitions. How did these so-called extreme sports get there -- and how does it feel to be in the midst of it all? The first comprehensive account of the history, culture, and business of action sports, Amped is a

Overview

Once a Fringe Underground culture, skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX biking, and freestyle motocross are now the stuff of car commercials and Olympic competitions. How did these so-called extreme sports get there -- and how does it feel to be in the midst of it all? The first comprehensive account of the history, culture, and business of action sports, Amped is a journey into a world where deft athleticism, potential pain, and the ultimate rush commingle. In journalist David Browne's eyeopening account of a truly alternate sports universe, readers will find themselves aboard a raucous skateboarding bus tour with the iconic Tony Hawk, behind the scenes at the X Games and snowboarding contests, dropping into a summer camp devoted to these sports, on the sidelines witnessing the first-ever double backflip on a motorcycle, and in the offices of the multinational corporations that have tapped into the vast amounts of money to be made from these new American pastimes. Along the way, readers will also hear firsthand from such stars as Hawk, skaters Bob Burnquist and Mike Vallely, BMX riders Ryan Nyquist and Rick Thorne, and motocross riders Mike Metzger and Clifford Adoptante.

Based on interviews with more than one hundred athletes, pioneers, industry executives, manufacturers, and, of course, the adolescent amateurs who are the heart of this movement, Amped is not merely the story of an alternative community now four decades old. It is the tale of a flourishing culture that continues to reject old-fashioned stick-and-ball sports in favor of individualistic forms of expression -- and that culture's struggle to hold on to its integrity despite the demands of corporate sponsors. The story of action sports speaks volumes about Generations X and Y and their divergent views on life, creativity, gratification, and identity.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
These days, top-ranked skateboarders, snowboarders, BMX racers and motocross riders can make millions in product endorsements in addition to their competitive earnings. As the music critic for Entertainment Weekly, Browne has an easy point-of-entry into this subculture through its avid appreciation for punk rock and heavy metal, but his overview approaches the extreme sports scene from a variety of angles. Whether he's hanging out with the pros on the tour bus, checking in with participants at a skate camp or meeting with ESPN executives to discuss the launch of the X Games, the candor he elicits from his interview subjects is impressive. He effectively describes the tension felt by the athletes, who strive toward a punk rock ethos of integrity and credibility as they navigate the increasing commercialization of their sports, but as an author, he hangs back at the sidelines. Though Browne seems fascinated by athletes who shrug off even life-threatening accidents by maintaining "injuries help to keep you focused," his narrative lacks an internal edginess that would ensure its appeal to participants in these sports, and his emphasis on marketing could be an equal turnoff. Older, less hip readers, however, will be able to glean some insight into what their kids and grandkids are up to these days. Agents, Sarah Chalfant and Jin Auh. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
America's four major sports (basketball, baseball, football, and hockey) have been institutions since before most of us were alive, so not many people have been around to witness the birth of a big-time sport. Browne, a music critic for Entertainment Weekly magazine, tells the story of how so-called extreme sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, and BMX biking evolved from subculture pastimes into organized, high-stakes, televised events. Browne's subject matter and timing are good, but the book is uneven-filled to the gunwales with technical terms from the sports, names of athletes, producers, and agents. Many of them are undefined or inadequately discussed, although the author does an excellent job of explaining the tricks themselves. It would seem that the book is too advanced for novices and too remedial for those more experienced. Similarly, the book is heavy on anecdote about competitions but short on cohesion and analysis. YAs may like it for its front-row rendering of detail. Optional for public and school libraries.-James Miller, Springfield Coll. Lib., MA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Entertainment Weekly music critic Browne (Dream Brother, 2001) takes an informative look at the uneasy interface of alternative sports and corporate America. Sports like skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX, and freestyle motorcross have defined an ethos that continues to be a refreshing change from traditional team games. They prize individualism and idiosyncrasy, lunacy and skill, rebelliousness and the pushing of limits. Tapping into the four sports named above, Browne grasps a sense of this irascible, unconventional subculture and how it contends with issues of integrity and identity, especially now that it is being commercialized from both within and without. It's not lost on the business world that young Americans have "$250 billion in their collective backpacks to spend each year on cereal, fast food, snacks, and toiletries," and since many of them identify with alternative sports, commercial tie-ins seem natural-to the suits, anyway. But making a buck was antithetical to the pioneering vision of these sports; street cred was what mattered, not the size of your checkbook. While it's hard not to appreciate the fact that a good number of these athletes can now make a living at what they love to do, notes Browne, it comes at the cost: the hard life of traveling to contests, the jealous backstabbing of fellow riders, the striving for sponsorship . . . that is: getting a job. Still, as Browne does a bit of hard traveling along with the athletes, they are getting their kicks (and smashed bones) while trying to keep their newfound public notoriety in perspective. As one member of Tony Hawk's entourage says, "We were just a bunch of retards on a skatepark tour." Very talented retards, though,even when doing stunts that put their sanity in question. No longer outlaws, perhaps, but the author shows enough of these riders remaining wary of selling out to keep their misfit status intact.
Spin
"A rapid, thrillingly written look at the industry's evolution, one that fully appreciates the dizzying heights as well as the devastating lows that extreme sports have witnessed over the last four decades."
Maxim
"A must buy!"
San Francisco Chronicle
"Well researched and nicely presented, Amped is an engaging look at the history and increasing popularity of action sports."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596917309
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
12/01/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

David Browne is the music critic for Entertainment Weekly and the author of Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley (HarperCollins, 2001). A former reporter for the New York Daily News, he has contributed to Rolling Stone, the New York Times, New York magazine, Sports Illustrated and other publications. He lives and very occasionally skateboards in Manhattan.

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