Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Misc [Print without images]

Thursday, August 3, 2006
Updated: May 11, 8:41 PM ET
The Biggest Fan

By Mary Fenton

Devotion: A way to please your god, maintain a healthy relationship with a significant other or crawl your way to the top of fan-club rankings.

The X Games fan is a far cry from the average pigskin weekly watcher. But that doesn't mean their flame burns any less bright. Beneath the faux hawks, chain wallets and air-brushed X-logo tattoos exists an enthusiast with a split-second call-up of the middle name, favorite band and contest stats of every X Games rider on the roster. My week-long challenge: to track down these action sports highbrows in search of the Biggest Fan at X.

I begin on Thursday, Day One, at the Home Depot Center. No morning events were scheduled, but that's no deterrent for X zealots determined to simply make up their own. I stop by a mock SuperMoto race. Kids pad up and take laps around a dirt course on leg-powered X Games moto X-inspired bikes. Some of these racers looked like seasoned pros, high-banking turns and catching mini airs off the mini jumps and biting the riding style of their favorite athletes. Other moto X fans didn't have quite as easy a time with the bikes and struggled to hoist them up after a spill, calling on the dude with the checked flag slash babysitter at the course entrance.

The next search for the B.F. in fanland came amid scattered oohs and aahs at the base of Mega skate practice, where two mega riders sessioned in jump, bail, repeat style. After overhearing one fan say he hadn't seen anybody land anything and while standing amongst less people than I'd find at a chocolate protest, I moved on.

I perused the mini skatepark for aspiring shred-a-holics and then ventured down to the Xperience, where X fans were snagging swag, playing guitars and collecting autographs from Element team riders Tosh Townend and Mike Vallely. Other uber-fans bid their time by competing in a deodorant-application contest, where the best man is the first to exhaust a trial-sized stick of Xtreme anti-perspirant to the menacing, "Apply! Apply!" of the announcer. What happens at X Games stays at X Games, right?

I finished Day One at center stage, catching a song by one of 13 bands playing the Games, who, according to the official set list, was most likely Unwritten Law. Four fans in mini-skirts bobbed their pigtails while a black-jeaned dude kicked a leg or two. Moshing was minimal, and there was no crowd to surf on. Busted again.

So my search continues. I have yet to find the soul with the enthusiasm of Linda Cohn or Sal Masakela, the insight of Freud or the flair of LeBron James. He or she is still out there, and I know it's only a matter of time before they present themselves, wearing full X garb. I'm on the lookout, and no pair of Oakleys can hide them.