Frank Stoner / July 30th, 2013 / Blogs
Two Cows: A Perspective on Action Sports

First, some context: In government and civics classrooms all across the country, many teachers and instructors rely on a marginally humorous poster about two cows to boil down the complexity of elaborate systems of government and economics for their students. The idea is to reduce the scale of something that is normally overwhelmingly complicated into a simple form that is both cognitively manageable and at least somewhat memorable.

The explanations commonly look about like this:

Socialism: You have two cows. You keep one and give one to your neighbor.

Communism: You have two cows. The government takes them both and provides you with milk.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

The School of Business at the University of Illinois maintains a similarly “chuckleable” list here.

Now, in the spirit of all the well-meaning and good-humored civics teachers throughout the land, ONE Magazine invites you to take a look at our explanation of Action Sports through the lens of the ‘Two Cows’ model.


• • •

Wakeboarding: You have two cows. One pilots the boat while the other wakeboards behind it.

Surfing: You have two cows. Both get super faded and sit on a beach somewhere in Polynesia.

Skydiving: You have two cows. One collects a large salary from Red Bull, the other dies tragically in a B.A.S.E jumping accident.

BMX: You have two cows. One evolves thumbs, studies geology and becomes a trail boss, the other switched to riding fixie back before it was cool.

Mountain Boarding: You have two cows. No one has seen either of them since the 1996 X Games.

Scootering: You have two cows. One blows everyone’s mind by doing a 720 down El Toro while the other cow, still a calf, suckles at the tit of the former.

Street Luge: You have two cows. You name one “Biker Sherlock,” and the other one, no one remembers.

Skateboarding: You have two cows. One rides a skateboard. The other one looks like he rides a skateboard.

Motocross: You have two cows. One can do a back flip, the other wears a flat-brimmed ball cap; both earn seven-figure salaries and are worshiped by people who claim to have intimate knowledge of the “Real America.”

Body Boarding: You have two cows. The two have been arguing for years about whether using fins “counts.”

Parkour: You have two cows. One earns a hefty salary as a stunt man, the other is a really annoying middle schooler.

Freeskiing: You have two cows. One spends a huge amount of money to take its family on a ski vacation and simultaneously pays the six-figure salary of the other cow who flies around in a helicopter looking for sweet cliff jumps.

Downhill Mountain Biking: You have two cows. One builds the trails, the other rides the trails, both have MBA’s from Princeton.

Skimboarding: You have two cows. They’re both 8-year-old children and no one gives a shit.

Rollerblading: You have two cows. One has a BA in film production and wastes his time filming the second, who is sure that Rollerblading is months away from being lucrative but has no idea that he’s destined to live a life of poverty.

Snowboarding: You have two cows. Both answer to the name “BRAH” and earn a six-figure income.

Illustration by Jason Reyna

Discussion / Two Cows: A Perspective on Action Sports

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  • beau cottington - July 30th, 2013

    Funny, but you are bit off regarding bodyboarding and moto. Hit me up I will elaborate.

  • Eric Schrijn - July 30th, 2013

    Haha! We need to work on fixing the 15th one. Maybe starting with some AA!
    Attitude Adjustment!

  • Frank Stoner - July 30th, 2013

    It was just for some quick laughs, fellas. Nice to see that yall took the time to read it though! Thanks for that!

  • Bret - July 31st, 2013

    good stuff frank! i lol’d

  • Frank Stoner - July 31st, 2013

    Thanks, Bret!

  • billy - July 31st, 2013


    Snakeboarding: You have two mostly decomposed low-quality cuts of veal embedded in a mountain of trash, somewhere.

  • Frank Stoner - July 31st, 2013

    Oh man! I TOTALLY forgot snakeboarding! We used to have a guy in Austin back in the day who was really, really good at it. To be fair though, he was the only person I ever saw do it in real life. Nonetheless, I never had the impression that snakeboarding got big enough to support crews and scenes–mostly just stray people here and there. Good memory though, Billy! And thanks for commenting!

  • Mike Falcone - August 1st, 2013

    Love it!

  • Frank Stoner - August 2nd, 2013

    Ha! Thanks, Mike!

  • Thunder Road - August 4th, 2013

    HAHA . . . “Mountain Boarding: You have two cows. No one has seen either of them since the 1996 X Games.”

  • Geoff - August 14th, 2013

    Sweet read, Frank! Thanks for the chuckle.

  • Josh Ganz - August 28th, 2013

    Is it because I started rollerblading BEFORE snowboarding that I still live below the poverty line and shudder at the thought of someone addressing me as ‘brah?’

  • Frank Stoner - August 30th, 2013

    Josh: my best guess would be: Yes.

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