So you want to make a film or show based on an extreme sport that your target demographic is really into these days, to cash in on the trend. But you can't really focus on it without a plot, unless you want to make a documentary about it. And how could you justify featuring big name, A-list actors in a documentary?
So maybe, drug lords are using the local illegal street racing competition as a recruiting ground for wheelmen, and our hero is an undercover cop who must infiltrate them. Perhaps the protagonist's father was killed in the ring of an Mixed Martial Arts competition, and he must seek vengeance by joining the competition and defeating the killer. Or alien invaders use some sort of suppression field to disable all electronic devices, so the only way La Résistance can communicate in the city's battlegrounds is with elite practitioners of ''Le Parkour' as messengers. May involve Not Just a Tournament.
Whichever route you choose, it's clear from the beginning that the whole point is to feature Xtreme Troping for 100 minutes and grab a hold of the people you think are into it. Occasionally the plot will be strong enough to make for an entertaining work on its own, but this is far from a requirement.
Compare Excuse Plot.
Contrast Subculture of the Week.
- One episode of Pokémon has the Pokéathlon, which was probably put in there to promote the HeartGold and SoulSilver version that the player can compete in.
- In An Extremely Goofy Movie, for some reason Max and his friends are all suddenly obsessed with winning the X-Games tournament (see the Kim Possible example below), and the central plot of the film is them competing in every sport involved.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Friendship Games revolves around the students of Canterlot High facing the students of Crystal Prep in a series of events that include archery, motocross, and roller derby.
- Point Break (1991) (and its 2015 remake): The excuse is that the surfers are robbing banks to fund their activity, and an FBI agent goes undercover to infiltrate the group. Although not the first, it is probably the most imitated example regarding films in this genre.
- The Remake is even crazier, with Big Bad Bodie's justification going from "just" surfing to a jamboree of extreme stunts around the world that, if completed, are supposed to let the sports artist achieve a kind of spiritual Nirvana, not to mention that the heists now involve insane stunts such as Halo jumping.
- The Fast and the Furious:
- The Fast and the Furious (2001): The excuse is that the street racers are hijacking shipment trucks to fund their activity, and a cop goes undercover to infiltrate the group. (It should be noted that the film is almost identical to the above-mentioned Point Break.)
- 2 Fast 2 Furious: The excuse is that the same undercover cop and an ex-convict become street racers in order to get hired as drivers for a drug lord so they can infiltrate his operation.
- The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: The excuse is that a street-racing teenager sent to his US Navy dad stationed in Japan wrecks a yakuza drifter's car, and he must work as his errand boy until he pays his car.
- Fast & Furious: Same as the second (different drug lord), with the added twist that Dom is also going undercover on his own initiative to get revenge on the man who killed his girlfriend. From that point onwards things go so off the rails in Serial Escalation that the series essentially becomes G.I. Joe with a souped-up car gimmick.
- Drop Zone: The excuse is that some people want to break into the DEA office to find out all their undercover agents. It turns out Washington DC is a free drop zone for skydivers on one day (hard to say if this was ever true — certainly not after 9/11), so they use that to sneak into the building.
- Surf Ninjas: How is surfing supposed to help you stop evil? When you use it to invade the island where the stronghold of a despotic dictator is located.
- Remember, bend your knees and use your arms!
- The Skydivers by Coleman Francis, which managed to suck out any sort of joy or excitement one might find in the activity. Was featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Another MST3K-featured movie, The Sidehackers, is initially about motorcycle racing with sidecars. It takes a somewhat darker turn about a third of the way through.
- Yamakasi — The Movie, starring Yamakasi, the parkour group. A small boy gets hurt trying to imitate them and needs very expensive surgery which his family is too poor to afford. So the Yamakasi decide to apologize to the family by robbing some very rich people and paying for the surgery.
- Although that is at least still some sort of plot, in the sequel Les Fils Du Vent the group literally just runs (or parkours) into criminals.
- xXx: the Western governments apparently need an extreme sports athlete with anarchist leanings to infiltrate the like-minded Anarchy 99 terrorist group, as their clean-cut James Bond types have already been exposed and killed for their inability to mesh seamlessly within the group. The entire plot is a contrivance to set up the parachute-snowboard-snowmobile-grenade scene.
- The sequel xXx: State of the Union swaps out the extreme sports for Gangsta Rap, as an ex-Navy SEAL from the Washington, D.C. ghetto teams up with his former partners in crime to stop a coup attempt.
- And the third film X Xx Return Of Xander Cage has Xander recruited for another mission and him deciding to ditch the CIA suit-and-tie gang that they tried to give him to recruit his own Ragtag Bunch of Misfits team that, you guessed it, are all also master extreme sportsmen on top of whatever else they are good at.
- In the Jackie Chan film New Police Story, the baddies are extreme sports enthusiasts and an action set piece takes place at a X-Games meeting.
- Blue Crush may have a plot, but there are so many surf scenes, shots of Hawaii, and gratuitous beach scenes that it is completely obfuscated.
- Extreme Days has the four main characters surf, drive, ride, and board their way across the country, in the name of freedom the summer before beginning their college careers.
- District 13 is designed to showcase the parkour skills of its protagonists, one of whom is actually the founder of the sport. The story is considerably more political than could be expected due to the social issues involved, dealing with a dystopia where the more dangerous neighborhoods around Paris were walled off by the government and left to fend for themselves.
- Released in late 2002, Extreme Ops concerned a film crew and three extreme sports enthusiasts who go to the Alps to shoot a commercial, only to discover the hideout of a war criminal who faked his death. It suffered from terrible pacing (it takes almost an hour for the war criminal to reveal himself) and being released just as Joe Public was getting really good and sick of the "X-Treme" craze of the early 00s. It bombed both critically and financially.
- Blood Surf is a monster movie about a bunch of Surfer Dudes who film themselves attracting sharks and surfing nearby for kicks. This would make them Too Dumb to Live by itself, but the sharks aren't actually the problem: there's also a much more vicious, giant crocodile stalking them.
- Every Warren Miller ski documentary (there are over 50 of them) is this. They all have some nominal hook that claims to explore some concept in skiing, but films are a series of short vignettes following different skiiers, followed by a lot of amazing shots of people skiing which are the real reason people watch the movies.
- Out Cold was a Sex Comedy example, in which a "save the ski resort" plot is used as the excuse for a mix of early '00s raunchy humor and scenes of snowboarders carving up the slopes of British Columbia (doubling for Alaska). The directors were at the time best known for the surfing documentary Thicker Than Water.
- Both versions of Rollerball have this. The titular Blood Sport is a sci-fi mix of Roller Derby, motocross, and Gladiator Games. The original film emphasized the use of rollerball as Bread and Circuses meant by the corporate rulers of the world to suppress individualism, the protagonist Jonathan becoming an Icon of Rebellion by emerging as a superstar athlete in a system designed to keep him down. In the remake, meanwhile, the Big Bad made the sport as violent as he could in order to maximize ratings, even at the expense of his stars. The "extreme" elements are also emphasized, most notably with Paul Heyman as the announcer and the sport being heavily draped in a contemporary "Attitude Era" pro wrestling aesthetic.
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm had some of this vibe, as all the Rangers save Cam were extreme athletes in their off hours: Shane's a skateboarder, Tori's a surfer, and the others are motocross bikers. These hobbies rarely if ever crossed into their fights with the evil space ninjas, though.
- My Name Is Earl has an episode where Earl is still in his coma, and the hospital convinces Randy to start caring for him at home instead of keeping him there, or moving him to long-term care. Randy has figured out that doing items on the List seems to improve Earl's condition (even pulling him back from the brink of death in an earlier episode), and one of the items involved stealing wheelchairs from two paralyzed children some 20+ years ago to go racing, leaving them out in the sun to be humped by a dog. The boy (now a man) competes in a game called "Killerball," which is like a cross between basketball and dodgeball, in wheelchairs. So does the girl's (now a woman) ex-boyfriend. Earl (despite being totally unaware) gets caught in the middle of a conflict between the ex-boyfriend and the brother. He wakes up from the coma in the middle of the game, after scoring a winning goal.
- The New Adventures of Beans Baxter: In "Beans Goes to Camp", UGLI steals a nuclear warhead, so Beans goes undercover at a parasailing camp to find it. Of course, parasailing plays a vital role in him saving the day at the end of the episode.
- Skateboarding has been outlawed in Skate 2, and the plot goes from there.
- Tony Hawk's Underground had a fairly decent plot involving getting sponsored by a major skateboarding company, and proving yourself as a star, before events made you realize that it was never about the money, and you end the game learning to do it for fun, rather than for money. The sequel then just had you skating around the world, causing destruction, as you're part of a team of pros competing in a "World Destruction Tour"
- American Wasteland's plot concerns the revival of a run-down skate park. To do this, you smash up and steal various items from within LA, and keep your distance from the law.
- Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. The girls are tricked into going to an island for a fake tournament (even though two of them should know for a fact that there isn't one). One of them even falls for it twice. Despite some of them being bitter or even deadly rivals (kind of the reason they batter each other in Dead or Alive), they all put this aside, play volleyball and buy each other swimsuits.
- Mirror's Edge. In a dystopian future, the government monitors all communication, so La Résistance can only relay messages using Parkour-trained agents who can jump rooftops and slide on rails.
- Xtreme Sports for Game Boy Color, aptly enough. The sports couple Fin and Guppi hear about an extreme sports competition sponsored by the Xtreme Cola company, so they compete against each other so that they both have the chance to win its cash prize. There is a group of antagonists called the Bone-Heads, but they're only secondary to the main objective.
- Dark Summit runs on this trope. After a UFO crashes at the Mt. Garrick ski resort and the military sets up shop there to study it, a group of rebellious snowboarders show up to uncover the truth, pitting them against the military and the ski patrol, who have teamed up in order to stop them.
- An episode of Kim Possible did it in a cross-promotion with the X Games, which are run by ESPN, which is owned by Disney.
- Action Man (2000) has one of the more insane (and awesome) of these, involving Cold War Super Soldier experiments, radical Trans-Humanism and Bullet Time powered by super-advanced math.
- The similarly-themed (although rather different past the premise) Max Steel starts as this, but drops it for a season and a half when Josh McGrath, for whom 'Max Steel' is an alias, quits sports because he can't turn off his powers and doesn't enjoy competition with the unfair advantage. He later learns to overcome this and the trope shows up played straight in a couple of episodes, but he's completely switched careers. In the season three Retool, Josh is no longer a secret agent and goes back to competing, so it shows up a few more times.
- Rocket Power was pretty much filled to the brim with them, including one episode that featured Tony Hawk.
- The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Extreme Spots" centers around this with SpongeBob and Patrick meeting a group of daredevils, one of whom played by Johnny Knoxville.
- The historical basis for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race — isolated town's children imperiled by diphtheria, weather conditions prevent shipment of antitoxin by sea or air, heroic teams of mushers and animals race the clock to deliver the lifesaving medicine — used the Extreme Endurance Sport Excuse Plot for social change. It really happened in 1925, with the Great Race of Mercy to Nome, Alaska, but the organizers also made sure to keep the press informed, knowing that this life-and-death race would call attention to the lack of reliable transportation to western Alaska.