There’s nothing I’d like to see more than BMX racing growing as a sport. It seems that Olympic pathways are a higher priority than growing the grass roots and that’s a real concern to me, I would expect they would need equal treatment. I’m not going to complain about it, I just think it’s time to do something.
I’m not about to say BMX racing can be as big as it once was, because, let’s face it, it simply can’t. When BMX racing was introduced to the masses in the 70’s and 80’s there were far less distractions than there are now. Even within BMX there are so many options, but back at the start there was one type of BMX bike and you did everything on it. A highly regulated sport is hardly everyone’s cup of tea after spending the week at school being told what to do or even at work for a lot of us – it’s just going to work against us.
In the Olympic Era of BMX racing we should have seen greater growth in BMX naturally, we couldn’t get more mainstream coverage of the sport if we paid for it. We are now on to the fourth Olympic cycle since BMX was included in the big show and the direction for BMX seems fragmented and growth appears stagnant. Putting on BMX Supercross races is a great spectacle and is bound to attract attention but, just like Supercross is to Motocross, only a small subset of riders are capable of competing on such big and technical tracks. BMX racing now has two distinct identities Supercross and regular everyday BMX. Both should be seen as a whole or at least each should be used to promote the other. I know if I only knew about BMX Supercross style tracks I wouldn’t want to send my child down an 8 meter tall starting hill, and it’s likely I wouldn’t know better, so I’d take them to try something else. It’s not like there is someone to meet and greet new comers as they walk through the gates, and it’s rare to watch a Supercross race on a live stream and hear someone comparing the two different aspects of BMX racing.
I think the biggest problem we face is people are happy to complain about BMX racing but are not necessarily about to take ownership. If each of us was to talk one friend into the sport it would double. We live in a time where internet is king, but word of mouth is still a strong marketing tool. If everyone had a unified approach to promoting BMX among their friends the clearer message would be an easier sell. I’m sure not everyone is happy with all aspects of BMX, it’s common to hear someone has a gripe about something, it’s human nature, but what would happen to growth if we all used a positive outlook when discussing BMX. Talking about the things we love rather than the things we’d like to see changed.
One key thing I hear people discuss is how expensive BMX is, but it’s more affordable that a lot of sports. My argument here is that people forget that the sport is only as expensive as we let it be. No one says you have to travel great distances to race BMX, it’s just a lot of us do. It’s not like you have to have the most expensive equipment either. An instant engagement hub isn’t going to make you a better rider than someone using a freewheel. Sure you might make up a few micro seconds on the latest carbon bike, but does it mean you will be the next world champion? BMX is highly affordable. You could jump on a second hand bike and have fun competing at a local club event with minimal outlay, but people tend to forget this. Sure transponders/side plates, race gear, entry fees, fuel, etc, it all adds up, but only as far as you will let it. BMX at the local track isn’t any less BMX than a national championships. The goal is the same, you are still riding a BMX bike around a track.
Another key element to BMX racing is that it’s something that all the family can enjoy. There isn’t a lot of that these days, your whole family can ride the same track on the same day, even in the same style race gear if they feel that way inclined.
Rather than focusing on the negatives, let’s hone in on the positives, everything that is good about BMX and spread the word. Invite your friends along to your next race. Let’s not wait for someone to grow the sport for us. Let’s help BMX grow from the grass roots level, let’s do it from the ground up.
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