Maybe it was getting beat up on the slopes all day. Maybe it was being surrounded by teens and 20-somethings that will forever be way cooler than me. Maybe it was seeing competitors on ESPN's coverage doing rock-paper-scissors after an event, for what I'm not sure, or maybe it was just all seeing all the events. I've never heard of, and could never compete in, but these X Games make me feel old. (Oh and yes there is no dash between "X" and "games," as the media guide makes clear.)
I've always been athletic and always loved to play sports where winning was everything. I grew up shooting hoops in my driveway with the neighborhood kids and playing tackle football down the street. I wasn't big enough to compete in high school ball (and my mom wouldn't sign the waiver), so I played intramurals and pickup games at the park and with my boys, challenging the next town over for match-ups that often drew blood.
I still play hoops, softball, volleyball and 8-ball pool in city leagues whenever I'm not out of town on assignment (I usually miss about half the games every season). Since my birthday last year, snowboarding has become my new favorite activity. Unlike skiing, you can get good fast, but it's physically demanding and more exhausting than anything I've ever done. The first couple days I fell so many times I lost count. More than once on the last run of the afternoon I cursed whoever was near me and was/this/close to calling the ski patrol for a snowmobile ride down the mountain. Fortunately my pride saved me from what is apparently the ultimate embarrassment at any ski resort.
I mention all this because I'm in Aspen for the second straight year celebrating my birthday during the X Games, reminding me not just of my advanced age and weak knees but how dramatically our world had changed in the past couple decades.
The athletes here (and yes, they are athletes) are competing in events most of us have never heard of, including "Big Air," "Superpipe," "Snocross" (on snowmobiles, doing insane flips) and "Snowboard Best Trick Showdown." My best trick is connecting a couple turns without falling down, but I don't think that'll get me into the event.
In any case, it's pretty cool, and I'm hoping at some point over the next couple days, some punk will at least look at me with respect and say, "Hey, you're pretty good for an old guy."
Rick Leventhal is a New York based reporter for FOX News Channel.