BMX will be dead in America in one generation.

Connor really wants to get into BMX on his own accord but I’m starting to think it’s a bad idea.  Doesn’t seem to be anything near like it was when we were growing up.  Tracks are now privately operated and always closed, the local track is only open for paid practices on Thurs. at 5-7PM.  I suppose it’s now sport for parents without jobs?  He hasn’t even been able to get exposure to a track thanks to access limitations.   Local races are now cancelled when there’s any state points race held anywhere, testament to anemic participation.  I’ve got to go tell him for the 4th time he can’t go today because of rain or another cancellation due to a “state race” somewhere.

I’ve already had some run-ins with parents and race organizers, in person and on-line, who seem less than cordial, expecting pats on the back after making big mistakes the likes of which cannot be made by other USAC officials at sanctioned races without total points disqualification.  To be clear cyclocross, MTB and USAC road officials are volunteers too but somehow manage to avoid total amateur hour.

Now that BMX is an Olympic sport plan to watch the USA continue to get crushed beyond belief by Europeans, mostly Germans, where all cycling is taken very seriously.  In Europe BMX is heavily organized with plenty of tracks still staffed by municipal (ya, government) employees.  Can you say “not for profit”? I don’t know if the private operation in America was because of municipal operators like the City of Raleigh trying to offset liability or because operators thought they could make money?   Regardless, it’s not working.

Sad we start these sports in America, Mountain biking and BMX, but now we can’t get riders anywhere near the podium.  I can now tell this is not due to lack of interest but a failure of how the BMX is promoted, how tracks are operated (privately) and the lack of real training and experience of the officials.  BMX operators would be wise to embrace USAC and the UCI, go to races for other cycling events and see the organization first hand.  If these current track operators had to deal with the number of riders and size of races in the 80s and 90s they would be quickly overwhelmed.

Here’s another odd thing: It seems there aren’t many older kids in BMX (12-16 years old).  Almost comes off like a bunch of dads trying to relive the 80’s by pushing their young kids into it so they have an excuse to go race their own cruisers.  I kept racing bikes, moved to other advanced cycling disciplines.  I never talked Connor into BMX, just built him a bike.  His friend across the street got a dump truck full of dirt delivered last week to build their own jumps.  It’s their interest.  Sad when they want in but can’t easily participate because of massive access restrictions.  Ya, ya… there’s a new super track in South Carolina.  Rumor has it those officials are in over their heads too.  If USA Cycling wants BMX to flourish in America again they better reign it in.  Under the current operating model BMX is gone from America in a generation, no doubt about it.  I better build Connor the cyclocross bike he’s been asking about.  The junior CX division is getting big.

No comments

No comments yet. Be the first.

Leave a reply