For further proof that extreme sport has gone mainstream, look no further than the Olympics. The Olympics have co-opted subculture sport. No longer the last refuge of scoundrels, extreme sport makes millionaires and Olympians.
Sensing ESPN’s success with their first Winter X-Games which showed that big air meant big money, the International Olympic Committee added snowboarding to the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympic Games, BMX racing to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games, and ski cross to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
The IOC is now looking favourably at approving ski and snowboard slopestyle, women’s ski jumping and ski halfpipe at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and kiteboarding at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
In its press release, the Executive Board of the IOC said that the criteria used in recommending these extreme sports for inclusion into the Olympics included whether the changes would increase universality, gender equity and youth appeal, and in general add value to the Games plus the cost of infrastructure, and the impact on the overall quota and the number of events.
However, the IOC has mandated all international sports federations to re-evaluate the marketability of their events. Christophe Dubi, sports director for the IOC, said, ‘The IOC has moved from using a quantitative list to select events to an overall value-added selection process. The criteria could be provenance or universality. It’s an issue of maximizing the platform we offer at the Olympics.’
So there we have it. The IOC’s business model accommodates adding value through the maximizing of revenue streams across multiple media platforms. Perhaps the IOC should add ROI to its Fundamental Principles of Olympism!