Thursday, August 21

16 Year Old Adults

Oh sure, Shawn Johnson is talented and cute and Nastia Liukin is focused and elegant. We heard it over and over for the last two weeks, and for the moment, these girls are America's little darlings. As such, they were thrust into the spotlight, with appearances live on set with Bob Costas, or appearances on the Today Show. You feel like you get to know someone really well in such a very short span, and then you realize you've never heard their voice before.

When the girls did get their turn to talk, they looked way more nervous than they did when they were performing. But no one would blame them. After all, these girls are 16 and 18 years old, and they've never been in this situation before. They're just kids. They're high school aged, they haven't even gone to college yet. And with this Jason Lawrence business this summer, hasn't everyone weighed in with their "Hey, I remember when I was a kid I did a lot of dumb stuff too..."

But here's the funny part about motocross. We don't have 16 year old kids. We don't have cute darlings. We don't have people who are just of high school age, or who haven't even entered college. By the time a motocross rider at the same level of Shawn Johnson or Nastia Liukin shows up, he's expected to be a man, to be mature, to be a pro and to not be a kid. We don't have 16-year-old kids in this sport. We have 16-year-old adults.

I'm sure when the nation saw Johnson nervously squeezing her medals on Tuesday night, they thought it was cute that she was that nervous. After all, she's just a kid!

In motocross, you're mature way beyond that. Motocross riders have been interviewed a billion times by the time they turn 20. Trey Canard and Jimmy Albertson came on our webcast this weekend and it seemed like it was old hat to them.

Sure, our webcast reaches about a zillionth of the audience the Today Show does, but that shouldn't dismiss how impressively well spoken today's teenaged motocross star is.

As always, we have a tendency to forget just how young our athletes really are. The new champion of the AMA Motocross Class, the one who had to get beaten down for three years by the Greatest Of All-Time, would have spent this summer in NFL Rookie Camp if he played football. For us, he's expected to carry the sport on his shoulders and into the masses. That's as impressive as anything he can do on the track, or Johnson can do on a balance beam.

13 Comments:

peelout719 said...

great subject weege. sometimes people forget that these kids whom are expected to be complete professionals, are still just kids. then throw in the home-schooling, travelling the country with mom and dad, and your only friends being at the amateur nationals 4 times a year, and you wonder why they act out and actually try being a kid...

while we're on the subject of olympians also though, anyone else notice how cocky and arrogant the runners seem to be? i haven't seen that much arrogance since Ali ruled the ring.

fiddy said...

Cocky and arrogant are two words that describe J-Law too.

Kid is a punk and he shouldn't be in 500 feet of any track with that attitude of his. Maybe he should take up swimming, he looks like water hasn't touched his body in forever.

I hate his guts.

Gio: said...

Interesting point, Weege. 2 comments:
1) Motocross has very little coverage compared to the Olympic games, however it enjoys media exposure way bigger than gymnastics does when not part of the Olympic games, hence motocross athletes are more used to talk in front of TVs and loud crowds.
2) Most Olympic sports are played in school-settings such as high school or college, hence the athletes have, in most cases, a social upbringing more "normal" than that of homeschooled kids thrown by their parents in the show business (supercross especially, can be called "show-business").
In Matthes' podcast DC mentioned the case of the Alessi brothers and he is right on in promoting that pro licenses are issues only to riders who are 18 and older.

YamaLink said...

I think the big dollar sponsors make sure pro racers are well-spoken... hold on, I now remember the SX podium speeches we commented on this blog. Never mind.

It's no different than Cody Cooper's brief interview after Unadilla. Nowhere near as polished as an Albertson and probably on par with the gymnasts.

Gio: said...

True, Yamalink. I forgot to specify "in the US" after "motocross", the the riders competing in the World Championship come across less "media experienced", too...in some cases it may well be that English is not their first language though.

Anonymous said...

There is a difference between the "16 year old adults" in our sport and most Olympic metal winners. Most of their countries support them, we push ours out there and they have to support themselves. It makes 'em tough, hungry and for the most part great young people. And later, really great husbands and fathers!

yamalink said...

peelout719 is so right. I just watched the hurdles, and after finishing 2nd, some cocky US athlete kept shouting "#1 baby, #1!"

On a related unrelated note, did anyone catch the BMX Supercross (that's what the announcer called it)? Incredibly exciting and crazy and all that! It was like a US Open fast lap but with 7 or 8 other going for the gold at one time. Huge crashes and sx-like jumps and scrubs. Arguably the best action I've seen thus far in the Games.

Jason Weigandt said...

Yeah, 18 and up is where it's at. I don't see how it can't help...and I don't mean J-Law, because he's his own case. In general, it will make the sport look more professional, make the riders more polished and not make us look anti-educational. Sorry in advance to Adam Cianciarulo!

Anonymous said...

With the young champions a lot can be seen in the way they were raised. I think their level of maturity is just one example. I thought Trey was great on the show. Seemed real comfortable and had a lot of insite. I hope you have him back on in the future.

flynbrian said...

I agree Trey was great and is such a nice kid. I'm sure his mom is proud and she should be.

YamaLink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

BMX Supercross rocked. Too bad it got a "blinks" worth of coverage.

YamaLink said...

It (the bmx final) had an X Games vibe to it...all 68 seconds of coverage.