This week was huge for American motocross and not because the 2019 Motocross Des Nations team was announced. Kawasaki and Adam Cianciarulo did something very rare in the sport, they were transparent and truthful. Kawasaki is not allowing their 2020 450 riders, Cianciarulo and Eli Tomac, to compete in the MXDN this year. As an American who highly anticipates this annual event, I am disappointed two of the best Americans will not represent the USA in 2019. I do, however, respect Kawasaki’s decision and understand how they arrived at this conclusion.
I am on record telling anyone who will listen the sport needs more transparency. Adam Cianciarulo has been brutally honest throughout his young career. At Washougal I asked him about his plans for next year and the MXDN. To my disgust Adam gave the politically correct answers, but I could see it bothered him and he really wanted to be more transparent. Adam is an intelligent person and understands today’s media far better than some of the dinosaurs in this industry. He has shared both his successes and his failures with fans, and that is a large reason he is one of the most popular riders in the sport. Adam doesn’t hide behind cliché’s; he shows us both the glory and struggles of his career.
As for Kawasaki openly pulling their support for the MXDN team, I fully support their decision. Don’t confuse Kawasaki skipping the event as a lack of patriotism. In fact I will go as far to say, what’s more American than standing up for what you believe? Kawasaki could have used a stupid excuse in an attempt to save face, but they didn’t. They came out and protected their riders and I ask, why should they go? They spend a ton of money and use valuable resources when they should be preparing the 2020 season which includes getting adequate rest. If USA riders win nobody cares what brand of motorcycle they are riding, it’s all about the country they are representing. If they don’t win it can look bad for the brand. From a pure business standpoint this decision is easy, but we all know it’s more than business when representing our country.
Patriotism can blind our better judgment and Youthstream (event promotor) has recognized this and is exploiting our national pride for financial gain. I don’t know exact attendance numbers for MXON events but estimates are anywhere from 30k – 60k. Assuming they sell 30k at the weekend price of $125 per ticket they are collecting $3.75 million dollars at the box office. This figure doesn’t include VIP tickets, sponsor money or streaming revenue, so why can’t they offer a substantial amount of money to offset costs for attending teams? Seems like offering Team USA and the manufacturers supporting the team a substantial subsidy would barely be noticed on Youthstream’s bottom line.
The other big issue is timing, as having an outdoor race five weeks after the American series ends almost completely eliminates a rider's off-season. Either schedule the MXDN closer to the end of the national series or like other sports have the event on a bi-yearly or Olympic cycle (four years). How much luster would the Olympics, World Cup (soccer) or Ryder Cup (golf) lose if they were held every year? Asking athletes to represent our country every single offseason isn’t realistic or fair to them.
I know riders in the 80’s viewed this event differently, but this event showed signs of over-saturation in 1992 when our top stars Jeff Stanton and Damon Bradshaw both declined their invitations. If Youthstream truly wants this event to be an Olympics of motocross, maybe they should follow the same timeline as the Olympics and stop asking teams and athletes to risk life and limb for country pride while they reap the profits. I stand with Kawasaki and their decision to skip the event, maybe this is the first step in manufacturers realizing they hold far more power than the race promoters. This could be a historic decision… Time will tell, but I support Kawasaki and their decision.
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Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.
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