Below are a couple recent posts to eWire's DiscussionBoard (with spelling and grammar corrections):
"Dave Mirra, newschool fag, X-Games poster child...I'd like to see him compete in a real contest."
"Finally someone else who hates Mirra. I hate his image. He looks all sell-out and shit with his Adidas shoes and Arnette glasses. I bet if you take away the Haro paycheck and all the cash from the events you will be left with a washed-out has been. "
Now, I have no problem if you don't like a rider or his image that's fine, and you have a right to your opinion. But I think a lot of shit that has been thrown at Mirra lately (not just on the Web, but in letters to Ride magazine) is unwarranted. It's probably just part of the American culture: For some reason, we have a guilty pleasure of seeing people rise to the top then get great joy in watching them crash and burn, whether it's a famous actor making a terrible movie, a wealthy person going broke, or a sports hero getting arrested.
I'm not a Mirra-worshipper by any means (I fall into the third category below). But if you will allow me to generalize for a minute, it seems to me that there are three basic opinions about Mirra, which not-so-coincidenally depends roughly on a rider's age:
under 15 years old
Loves Mirra and looks up to him like we old-timers looked up to the pros 12-15 years ago. Avid BMX Plus reader, always needs to know what kind of frame, bars, pedals, brake cable, etc. Dave uses. Will go out and purchase such parts to try to make their bike more like Dave's; will also buy anything else endorsed by him: sneakers, sunglasses, etc. (Now you know why Dave is sponsored he makes money for his sponsors.) Autograph hound at contests and shows. Constantly talking about Dave and writing letters to magazines about him, as well as emailing editors of webzines wanting info on him.
16-23 years old
Thinks nobody should be paid for riding a bike: you ONLY ride for fun, therefore Dave Mirra (possibly the highest-paid rider today) is the ultimate sellout. Lives a bohemian lifestyle (or, more likely, with parents) and therefore doesn't see the need why anybody would need money except for fast food, bike parts, and beer. Doesn't give a shit what bike or parts Mirra uses: it's not a second-hand S&M with bars back, knobby tires, and no pegs or front brakes, so it's gotta suck. Either pissed that Dave is "using" the sport to make money, or deep down is pissed that they can't ride for a living.
24 years old and up
Acknowledges Mirra as a great rider. Doesn't care what kind of bike or parts he has or what he wears they've got responsibilities of their own to worry about: bills and rent/mortgage to pay, full-time jobs, maybe a wife (and even kids). Who cares what Dave is doing? They have their own life to live. Realizes Dave needs to make a living, too, and if he (or anybody) can make a living by riding, more power to them. It's not a job you can do forever, so he might as well do it now while he can.
Yeah, Dave's making money it's his job. And ESPN has latched onto his like he's the only rider that matters that's what TV sports does in America (ever watch the Olympics?). At least(a) he's a damn good rider, and (b) he's not a buffoon like some other riders out there. Is he pulling a Krusty the Clown, endorsing any piece of crap anybody offers him? I don't know. Maybe the Mirra Adidas shoes suck, maybe they rule. (I'm sure if any rider even those who hate him was offered to be paid to design a shoe specifically for riding, they'd do it.)
I also find it odd that the same people tearing down Mirra don't do the same to other riders, say Dennis McCoy who (gasp!) rides for a company that makes rollerblades and mountain bikes! Watch out DMC: you're next on the BMX Crusaders' hit list...