The relatively recent growth of so-called Extreme Sports has created an opportunity for scholars to examine sport, games, and play once again—but as the concepts are played out in emerging sport forms. In this ethnography of BMX bikers, we examine one group of youth within two different venues: the grass-roots, child-driven activity of setting up ramps, courses, and jumps locally, and the corporate, adult-driven activity where skateparks have become “safe zones” for children to practice their skills. Where does the grass-roots, pick-up, play activity of BMX [d]evolve into the for-profit multinational corporation business concern, and what are similarities and/or differences between BMX culture and other youth-oriented forms of sport? We attempt to understand BMX Sport as an emergent form of extreme sport and to unravel the complex connections between grass roots activity and for-profit, commodified activity, and what these activities mean to these participants.
The authors are with the Department of Kinesiology, California State University, San Bernardino, CA. An original version of this paper was presented at The Association for the Study of Play annual meeting, San Diego, California, in February 2001.