Broken bones, head trauma, shark attacks, and casualties all while playing the sport you love. Is it worth it? With extreme sports come extreme risks. There are many controversies over these sports as to whether they are ethical or not and why anybody with the right mindset would consider participating in such events. These sports often involve high speed, great heights, a high level of physical exertion, and highly specialized gear or spectacular stunts. Some popular and quickly growing extreme sports in today’s society are snowboarding, speed and freestyle skiing, surfing, sky diving, mountain climbing, and wake boarding.
Many researchers, psychologists, and sociologists look for the reasons athletes choose to participate in these high risk sports rather than more traditional sports such as baseball and football. A few researchers argue that there are specific demographics that are more likely to engage in these activities. Also, they believe that people with certain personality traits are more likely to participate in high risk activities. My goal is to better understand why people choose to participate in such high risk sports even though they carry extreme risks with them.
After recognizing the dangers, people are able to decrease the likelihood of those risks by educating the public, using proper safety equipment, and implementing emergency plans in case dangerous situations outbreak. The athletes who participate in extreme sports often times value their specific and individual ways of practicing them. In his memoir, Bode, Bode Miller emphasizes his passion to speed ski because he uses his own methods of performing to be the fastest skier in each competition—plain and simple.
Knowing which group of people is more likely to participate in high risk sports not only benefits the public’s curiosities, but it also benefits the business side of the respective sports. By determining who is most interested in these types of sports, companies can make campaigns and advertisements that are compelling to that specific demographic and ultimately increase their economic revenues. Due to the reputation of extreme sports, they are often times viewed as daredevil activities with unnecessary risks.
That being said, a lot of negative speculation revolving around the sport is common in today’s society. Various news stories, movies, and other sources in the media help spread the impression of the risks and dangers of the sports. Although the public hears mostly about all the negative effects of extreme sports, there are a variety of ways to decrease one’s risk of injuries through proper precautions and practice. In saying that, there are also many benefits to extreme sports as seen in Bode Miller’s memoir, as well as interviews with other extreme sport athletes.
The X Games is one of the more popular sporting events, where people gather to watch athletes compete in extreme sports. Some of these sports include skateboarding, mountain biking and motorcycle racing. The community around extreme sports can sometimes be seen as exclusive and particular when it comes to defining what an extreme sport is and who is a true extremist.
Originally, I believe the extreme sport community created this division of athletics because they thought their sports did not fit in at a standard sporting event. Part of the reason some the extreme athletes participate in their sport is because they see it as a way of defying the boundaries of what is seen as a typical sport. Most extreme sports are about pushing limits. Extreme sports are not conventional in the sense that practicing isn’t really necessary, a coach isn’t necessary, and the sports are very individualistic. Some of the extreme sport athletes do it for the adrenaline rush.
They do it purely for themselves. Their reasoning contrasts to some of the other sports where lots of practice and coaching is essential for success. A lot of the athletes that compete in non extreme sports are focused on getting sponsors or when you’re younger, getting recruited for college. For the extreme sport community this is considered to be feeding into the capitalist society/culture. Part of extreme sports is about taking risks and not having anything to fall back on.
The X games have put a strain on the extreme sports community because some seem to think that the event has altered the true goal of the sport, which is to take risks and to go against the mainstream culture. Some people seem to believe that it has become like the other sporting events, in the sense that there are now big sponsors and judges. They argue that the extreme athletes are no longer taking risks because they want to make sure they can land the trick. The goal is no longer to try new tricks and push the bar, but its more about doing what you know will please the judges. This goes against what extremist originally wanted for the sport. It takes the risk out of it and you no longer do it for yourself but for the judges. The fact that there are sponsors is also a cause for controversy because some people see it as the athletes being sellouts.
For example, Tony Hawk is famous skate boarder. He has a lot of sponsors, video games, and ads. Some say he is no longer a true extremist because of it. At the same time, what makes the sports in the X games more extreme than say diving or gymnastics? Both sports are very individualistic and there is a lot of a risk, yet they are not seen as extreme sports. I think the extreme sports community has tried to make their community too exclusive and extreme sports benefit from the X games and the sponsors and judges it brings. The event does bring aspects that were not originally a part of the sport, but the extreme sports community will grow now. Extremist can still continue to push limits and do the sport for themselves despite what others may think.