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Editorial: John Paul Rogers Podcast

June 9, 2017 by  

John Paul Rogers on Dale Holmes PodcastEarlier this week, Dale Holmes recorded an episode for his “High-Low” podcast show featuring long-time BMX industry legend, John Paul Rogers.

I was looking forward to this episode since Dale told me about it a few weeks back in Nashville; JP and I just-missed each other in terms of our respective California adventures. If my understanding of the timeline is correct, he got there in late 1988 or early 89, and I pretty-much checked out of the BMX scene in March of 89, returning in March of 2008.

Two-hour podcast episodes are usually too long for my taste; I prefer to keep it to about an hour, both for listening and for our Announcers Tower podcast, here on News.

But, I have to admit, this was one I wish could have gone another hour—JP tells his stories in a way that keeps you smiling between belly-laughs, and provides plenty of useful detail into the outlines of history we have sketched in our minds.

The first hour or so of the episode was good-ol-days stuff, and we strongly encourage you to listen from the beginning; there is some true old-gold there.

But the purpose of this editorial is to give a tick-tock of what he covered, vis a vis present-day BMX Racing, and his opinions on some relavent topics therein.

We include some of our own notes on the points, and will include the embed to the show at the bottom, so you can listen along.

PARENTAL ADVISORY – This episode contains explicit language and adult themes. It may not be suitable for younger listeners.

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Timecode – Topic

1:11:29 – Pro Racing is not an asset; does not bring riders in.

1:12:38 – What Freestylers think of BMX Racing

1:13:54 – SO much potential for BMX Racing

1:14:11 – Why are tracks so big?

1:15:30 – Elite Women

1:17:34 – Dale Asks: “Would Freestyle shot-callers get interested in BMX Racing?”

1:18:13 – On Greg Hill

1:19:15 – The only ones who have done independent events are freestyle guys

1:20:10 – BMX Racing is “Elitist” and exclusive.

1:20:23 – Racing’s Appeal to kids

1:20:50 – USA BMX Develop Pump tracks

1:22:43 – Smaller events

1:23:44 – They should have dirt jumping competitions at pro events.

1:24:03 – 100 pros, 100 amateurs and their families in Dirt Jump

1:26:00 – Reconnecting with the rest of BMX

1:26:19 – Faction Magazine

1:27:41 – Magazines and media

1:30:39 – “The money’s not bad” (in BMX Racing)

1:31:00 – “How can racing get big hen you’re only in 12 cities?”

1:32:06 – Pros should race for “$1000 per weekend x 40 weekends”

1:33:13 – Racing needs to “reconnect” with freestyle

1:34:15 – Talk about the freestyle brands, and bike sales numbers

1:37:24 – Prediction: 2020 will be the last Olympics for racing

1:42:36 – Talked to Mat Hoffman about UCI involvement in Freestyle

1:44:02 – Baffled USA BMX did not take up freestyle in North America
Editor’s Note: USA BMX *did* take up the cause of UCI BMX Freestyle in North America. It was big news last year, which we covered here on News, but we have not heard a peep about it for almost a year. Historically, freestylers want NOTHING to do with anything related to racing–even though, ironically, many top freestylers have racing roots, the rank-and-file do not, and want to stay as far away as possible from racing.

My take:

Many of the points above are JP’s opinion on a given person or topic, and we’re not going to nit-pick those.

Much of this discussion was taken from the pro point of view (talking about the number of stops on the USA BMX tour, and pro payouts, pro events and like-that).

But I felt compelled to weigh in on a few of the points concerning how BMX Racing should proceed in the future.

The concept of bringing the various BMX disciplines together (shoe-horning racing into the world of dirt, vert, park and/or street) is an interesting concept, but the reality is that it never really works in practice. The CULTURE of these groups are so different that it’s an oil & water scenario, with the rough and tumble freestyle crowd— PBRs in hand— dodging in and out of racing families walking to the moto boards or starting gate. Introducing that dynamic into national BMX Racing events would be, in my opinion, the worst possible thing for our sport, from a cultural point of view.

At root, BMX Racing is a family sport. Try-as-some-might to build it into it a spectator sport, an Olympic Sport, a Professional sport, a TV sport, etc.—it can be all of those things—but above all, BMX Racing is a family sport, in a way that the freestyle disciplines never will, or want to, be.

Yes, the freestyle events have lots of spectators, beer sponsors, etc. I’m not knocking the vibe or the setting for those events. But I, for one, would not want to see BMX Racing blended into those events–apart from a few choice instances (Sea Otter, for example, or if someone decided to stage an all-BMX “festival” of some kind).

A BMX Racing renaissance will not be found on the coat-tails of Freestyle this time (JP was correct that, in previous booms, this was the case). This time, we are really going to have to do it on our own, via the grassroots. We know from history that the pro and upper-echelon levels do not work to grow the sport by playing-up its extremes.

Let’s grow the grassroots to 100,000 or 200,000 participants in the US, then use those numbers to take things to the next level, then the next. THAT is the new paradigm that BMX racing needs to devote energy to. Because, by doing that, the culture of our sport is within OUR control, and we are not forced into a “take or leave it” choice by bringing non-racers into racing events, and introducing dozens of freestyle brands into our already-crowded ecosystem. We don’t really need them here; the BMX racing brands have things more-than-covered.

Don’t mistake the difference of my opinion with what was said as being “anti-change.” I think we MUST evolve BMX Racing in order to shape it into a program that works for the modern era. Between JP, Dale and many of the other voices out there talking about evolution, I line up with many of their points. I just think the evolution starts at the place we have paid the LEAST attention to over the years: grassroots. THAT is where we’ll find our 100,000 participants, not via bringing freestyle and racing together at nationals.

Big props and thanks to Dale and John Paul for a very entertaining and enlightening show! Can’t wait for part 2.

—Mike Carruth

Top Photo: via DaleHolmes.com, via Facebook. No photo credit available.

Links

John Paul Rogers Podcast on DaleHolmes.com


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