Jeff Ament and Mary Carillo.

An interesting element with outdoor sports like skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing is the way the athletes involved often talk about how those activities make them feel, and what that does for them. But those sports all come with access barriers; the equipment involved isn’t cheap, and there often are challenges accessing the locations where those sports work. Well, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament is trying to do his part to a ddress the second part of that equation in his home state of Montana, as he discussed in a Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel segment with Mary Carillo (produced by Nisreen Habbal) this week (premiering Tuesday on HBO at 10 p.m. ET/PT, also available on HBO Max):

Ament, from Havre, Montana, has built 25 skateparks across his home state. As he tells Carillo there, the usual cost for a park is around $500,000, but there are no fees for anyone to use them. And he’s built several of these parks in Native American reservations, which have had particularly high suicide rates and particularly low infrastructure investments. As he tells Carillo in that trailer, “The goal is to have more world-class skate parks per capita here than anywhere, that’s the goal. I grew up here; I’m trying to bring that thing I’ve witnessed in my travels back to these kinds of places.”

This is another excellent segment from Carillo. She’s often done an excellent job of illustrating sports and people outside the mainstream to more mainstream audiences, as shown both through her work for NBC’s Olympics coverage and her segments for Real Sports. She explored skateboarding recently for Real Sports too, with a June 2021 feature on U.S. Olympian Alexis Sablone, a wonderfully complicated athlete and artist. She spoke to AA in 2020 around Real Sports‘ 25th anniversary and said “As long as there is a passion for good storytelling, this show’s going to be around with its very, very, very good talent, as long as there are good stories out there.” Well, this one’s certainly a good story, and Carillo and the Real Sports team did a nice job with it.

This whole segment is worth a watch, as are the other Real Sports pieces this month. They also have pieces on abuse allegations against former University of Michigan doctor Robert Anderson (reported by Kavitha Davidson, produced by Maggie Burbank), Amar’e Stoudamire finding his faith and identity in Israel (reported by David Scott, produced by Evan Burgos), and an update on Los Angeles Rams coach Marcus Dixon, wrongfully imprisoned as a teenager (reported by Bryant Gumbel, produced by Katie Melone).

[WarnerMedia; photo via HBO]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.