Extreme Sports

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Extreme sports (also referred to as action sports or adventure sports) are activities which have, or are perceived to have, a high level inherent danger. The practice of these sports requires very high levels of physical exertion, speed,high specialized gear or spectacular stunts. These high-intensity, individualistic sports, which involve everything from snowboarding to Moto-X (where motorcyclists attempt ski jumps) are fast overtaking traditional sports - especially group sports - in popularity. While Monday Night Football, for example, has recently struggled for an audience, viewership has steadily increased each year for such sports events as the X Games on ESPN and the Gravity Games on NBC.

Therein lies the significance of these new sports, many of which have developed as a sort of rebellion to conventional sports. They represent a new youth culture, a demographic which is large and still growing. In the US alone, it is estimated that 58 million people watch or are actively engaged in Extreme Sports. [1] Horizon Media Research in New York City estimates this group's annual buying power at more than $250 billion. That's one reason why large consumer giants like PepsiCo, AT&T Broadband, Motorola - and even the U.S. Marines - have focused a chunk of their marketing budgets on capturing the nation's extreme sports aficionados.


Types of Extreme Sports

  • Mountain Biking
  • Alpine Snow Boarding involves descending a snow-covered slope on a board attached to one's feet. It is a combination of surfing, skiing and skateboarding, and became a Winter Olympic Sport in 1998.
  • Sky Diving involves free falling off an airplane before opening one's parachute.
  • Surfing, in which a surfer gets carried along the face of a breaking wave
  • Zorping involves rolling down a hill in a great plastic ball.
  • Adventure Marathons
  • Mountaineering
  • Orienteering combines racing with navigation using a map and compass. High levels of fitness and running speed are required to compete successfully, but success also equally depends upon choosing the fastest route between start and finish points.

Extreme Vs Traditional Sports

It is not easy to classify sports as being extreme. Here are some traits that Extreme Sports exhibit --

  • They have an inherent element of danger.
  • They tend to be more solitary than team oriented.
  • They tend to have a younger-than-average target demographic.
  • Unlike traditional sports like soccer and cricket which are played in relatively controlled conditions, extreme sports are usually set in natural venues, where the vagaries of the weather and terrain add to their challenge.
  • In extreme sports, athletes compete not only against each other, but also against environmental obstacles and challenges of the terrain.

The Psychological Profile of an Extreme Sports Buff

The fear, the thrills and the clear and present danger in extreme sports gives an Endorphin rush that athletes find quite addictive. Extreme Sports are often not competitive in the strictest sense of the term, but they pit the sportsman against the elements. Keith Mallory, the mountaineer, was once asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. His reply was, "because it's there." He didn't survive his next attempt to scale the highest mountain in the world. In fact, the fear that drives many people away from the risks of extreme sports may be the same ingredient that keeps others coming back for more.[2]

To many, Extreme Sports also represent a rejection of tradition, a rejection of games and sports that the older generation thinks are `worthy'. The youth of Generation Y have seized upon activities which they can claim as their own, and have begun rejecting more traditional sports in increasing numbers. In fact many extreme sports reject the accepted norms of conventional sports -- they have no international governing body, no eligible team roster, no uniforms or coaches. [3]

Did You Know?

  • Statistical reports estimate that approximately one in a thousand main parachutes experience some kind of opening malfunction during parachuting, and must be cut away!

Keeping Safe

World champion skydiver Tamsin Causer was killed on May 26th, 2006 after a freefall jump with a friend went awry. Causer, a quadruple world record holder, collided in mid-air with Maria Russell over the Costa Brava, north of Barcelona. Russell was fortunate to escape with minor injuries after landing near a campsite, but Causer did not survive after plunging into the sea.

Extreme Sports by their very nature, entail a large set of risks. Here are some tips for keeping safe --

  • Begin by researching the facilities at your area that offer these kind of extreme sports adventures
  • Speak to the trainer to ascertain how trained or experienced he/she is. Do not hesitate to ask for the trainer's credentials.
  • You should be able to tour the facilities, ask for other people's reviews, request their authorization and certification documents, and generally learn through observation before putting your money, your time and your life in the hands of an extreme sports operator.
  • Some insurance companies provide special covers for extreme sports enthusiasts and may prove a blessing in case of injury and hospitalisation.


  1. [1]
  2. [2]
  3. [3]


  • Extreme Sports Videos
  • Video on Zorping
  • Video on Skydiving
  • Extreme Sports
  • Extreme Sports Accidents on Video
  • Insurance Policy for Extreme Sports

See Also