A.G.A. Nation (A.G.A. is short for Adrenaline Games Alliance) produces action and adventure sports events and competitions across the United States. The organization also specializes in mobile ramp shows, featuring pro BMX and skateboard riders at schools, as well as at festivals and downtown events throughout the year.
Sports Destination Management: A lot of organizations produce competitions. A.G.A. is different.
Kurt Luttermoser: We are different, in many respects. If you think about action sports, like BMX, skateboard, etc., the first things that come to mind are often the XGames, the Dew Tour, events like that. We term what we do an intermediate to advanced competition. If the XGames are the World Series, we are the Single-A or Double-A level of play. Our focus is the mid-markets, communities underserved with action sports programming.
A.G.A. Nation also offers events designed to appeal to middle school and high school students. Signature school productions include Bring Your 'A Game' to School for high schools and ‘Lids on Kids’ assembly theme centered on helmet use and concussion awareness. Additionally, the organization sanctions winter and summer competition-based festivals including the Bikes, Boards & Beach Series and Downtown Rail Jam events for snowboarders and skiers.
SDM: How do you use action sports to influence teenagers in a positive way?
Luttermoser: We try to tie in what we’re doing with what they’re going through. Like a lot of our athletes who are working on their skills and their careers as pros, high school kids are preparing for the next phase of their lives. We help them prepare for success by stressing the ‘A’ game mindset – attitude, ability (always performing to the best of your ability), alliances (meaning forming the right ones), activity (meaning getting off the couch), anti-bullying – we do a really high-flying adrenaline-type show and we keep them interested. You try to turn their heads in a different way.
SDM: Is it hard to get schools to agree to a show like that?
Luttermoser: High schools don’t have much time to spare; they’re trying to get students into classes and they have to worry about testing. They are willing to give you time, but they want it to be worth it to the students. They like to use a show like this to kick off the school year and motivate the kids. We have sponsors who make these shows available free to schools.
SDM: Concussion awareness is everywhere these days. With the ‘Lids on Kids’ program, is it hard to market helmet use to the students?
Luttermoser: When they’re younger, no, it’s not hard. By high school, though, it might not resonate with them. These days, for the most part, every pro athlete who is on a BMX bike or using a snowboard, skateboard, etc. – they’re all wearing helmets. It’s the adults who have a hard time accepting it because so many of them have grown up not using helmets. The message we keep trying to get across to the kids is ‘You are not too cool to wear a helmet.’
SDM: It’s obvious kids are gravitating toward action sports. What do you think attracts them?
Luttermoser: Action sports are fun and challenging. In addition, I just think the dynamics and priorities of families have changed. Kids don’t want to be out at the Little League field the whole day; they’d rather take their bike or their board and go out and have some fun with their friends – or they might just go off alone for a few hours and develop their skills and entertain themselves. In my generation, they might have gone out with their basketball or baseball and spent time practicing, but that has changed.
SDM: What do you think makes action sports so popular to the nation as a whole?
Luttermoser: They’re not only very TV-friendly but they’re very social-media-friendly. People need to understand that we’re living in a new media culture. A lot of millennials don’t pick up a newspaper so you have to reach them in a way that resonates with them. This is something that has really accelerated in the last five years, and we can expect the next five to seven years to bring even more changes and to be totally different.
SDM: Where does A.G.A. Nation put on its events?
Luttermoser: We’ve been in every state but Alaska and Hawaii. Most of our competitions are in the Midwest, but we’re looking to expand. We have a bike sports and a beach sports series as well.
SDM: What types of venues do you look for?
Luttermoser: Because we are hired for entertainment, we can put on events anywhere. We have a warehouse; it includes six setups with fabricated metal ramps. We have three BMX ramps that we use, plus a full-fledged skate park we can set up. We also have a separate turnkey snowboard setup which we use mostly in the Midwest. We can even use it in the summer – it’s like a carpet that simulates hard-packed snow. We’ll water it down and the pros will ride down it in their shorts. One other thing we have is a bike swing, where a rider uses a harness. It’s a unique setup. You can get pretty creative, and the audience loves it.
SDM: What do you think is the biggest misconception about extreme sports and the athletes who are involved with them?
Luttermoser: That the athletes are some kind of troublemakers, that they do negative things or promote bad behavior. They’re probably the most humble down to earth kids you’ll ever meet. They’re always friendly and nice, and no matter how far they go in the sport, they’re always willing to give back.