This article was inspired by a tweet that I came across over the festive period: “What extreme sports do blacks do?”. Before all of y’all go on some “Oooh racist” rant, keep in mind that this tweet was from a black dude. Brother-man has a point there; as comedian Steve Harvey once said: “sometimes it’s extreme enough just being black.” On the real though let’s look at this for a moment, black guys and girls aren’t exactly lining up to go shark diving or snowboarding. I know I’m not. This however doesn’t mean that we aren’t out there doing “extreme shit”.
A simple game of soccer can become super extreme when in ekasi - that’s when ordinary soccer surpasses “diski” and becomes what is known as “one parlo”. For the uninitiated, this is street soccer played in the street, with a brick on either end used for goals. What makes this more extreme then the ordinary soccer, besides the fact that it’s usually played barefoot is that there is a 60% chance of being run over by a speeding car, or delivery truck. Then there’s always the chance of knocking out a passing gogo and breaking a neighbours’ window could push this game into the life-threatening danger zone.
And whilst we might not have that many representatives on the WCT or in the X-Games. When we say we’re going surfing or skating for that matter, it’s on train’s baybee. That’s how we do. Besides dodging hectic railway guards, and trying not to lose your head, literally, there’s always the very slight chance of actually surviving and then being busted by the po-po. That’s a whole other extreme sport right there. Watch this space for upcoming info on Gautrain tunnel surfing.
Another unknown gem in the black X-Games is the version of chicken some play. There aren’t any protective metal cages when we do it. Lemme break it down for you; this is usually played on a busy highway or street and the trick here is to cross the road as nonchalantly as possible. You got to get some swagger in your stride as you cross that highway or busy intersection. It’s not just man against machine, it’s attitude.
Last but not least is something that makes the Iron Man look like Toy Story, even “culture” and the ancestors give a nod to; going to the mountain. This vital rite of passage for Xhosa initiate males determines whether or not you are deemed a man. This initiation path has been included in this list because it includes rock climbing, hiking, and other survival techniques like weathering extreme temperatures, and testing one’s tolerance for extreme pain right on the tip of your manhood. Rusty knives, no anti-biotics. This shit isn’t for sissies.
So what if quota systems won’t allow us to shine as swimmers (yes I went there), snowboarders, base jumpers and downhill skateboarders. I think I’ve proven the that the black X-Games are just about as extreme as it gets… and it’s not even really a game. It’s just life. Now if only someone could work out a deal for the broadcast rights.
*Illustration © Alastair Laird.