Wednesday, May 26, 2004

X Gamers say ESPN's not
showing them the money

By Shannon Russell
The Cincinnati Enquirer


When: Friday-June 1.

Where: Sawyer Point.

Admission: Free for spectators; $8 for any skateboarder, biker or skater who wishes to use the skatepark Friday and June 1.

Schedule: Click here.

Mobile Skatepark Series special section
Big tricks a tough trade
Hawk has seen highs, lows
X Gamers say ESPN's not showing them the money

The underground sports of yesteryear have become a profitable industry today, and some of its athletes don't think they're getting a fair share of the profits.

The 10th anniversary of the X Games kicks off in Los Angeles, Aug. 5-8. At the 1995 inaugural games, the athletes shared a $375,150 purse. Last year the purse was $1,160,000.

"ESPN will tell you that the prize money keeps going up," skateboarder Andy Macdonald said. "When you compare it to the corporate sponsorships, you'll find they've gone up, too."

X Games spokesperson Melissa Gullotti said ESPN does not disclose sponsorship figures.

Macdonald, among other action athletes, was disgruntled with the magnate during X Games VIII and nearly boycotted events after being offered a contract signing away rights to be filmed in a movie. The waiver was rewritten, the games continued, and the movie, ESPN's Ultimate X The Movie, went on to be filmed for large-format cinemas.

Pohlkamp was one of the featured athletes. He said he earned $700 for the day's work.

Ten years ago, any income for action athletes was unheralded, said Rick Bratman, president of ASA Events. Athletes didn't make demands.

"A lot of guys are getting a little bit cocky. They're biting the hand that feeds them," Bratman said. "Sometimes money clouds your judgment."

The Mobile Skatepark Series isn't turning a profit in Cincinnati yet and isn't expected to until next year, Bratman said.

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