The Characteristics Of Extreme Sports

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“Extreme Sports are activities perceived as involving a high degree of risk. These activities often involve speed, height, a high level of physical exertion and highly specialized gear” (Wikipedia, 2019). The culture of extreme sports can include ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. Extreme sports also attract people with a genetic predisposition for risk and risk-seeking personalities. Only the most skilled individuals can participate at extreme levels. There is no room for error and no second chances. It is found that extreme sports participants facilitate more positive psychological experiences and express human values such a humility, harmony, creativity, spirituality, and a vital sense of self that enriches everyday life compared to non-extreme sport participants. A number of extreme sports have now become increasingly popular and accepted by the general population.

Studies have found the relationship between personality traits and participation in high-risk physical sports that their participants in high-risk sports tend to score lower on Zuckerman’s Sensation Seeking Scale compare to low risk sport participants and controlled groups. Individuals that are sensation seeking have “the need for varied, novel and complex sensations and experiences and the willingness to take physical and social risks for the sake of such an experience.” (Griffiths, 2014) There is a notable difference between impulse high-risk takers and cutting-edge, expert, pioneering extreme sport athletes. Both type of participants risk injury and death while exploring the limit of their skills.

Psychological temperaments and characters that could possible be the reasons for becoming an athlete of extreme sport can include novelty seeking, harm avoidance, persistence, self-directedness, cooperativeness and self-transcendence. There has been a tendency to view all extreme sports participants as thrill seekers, but when we investigate it more closely. There are two types of risk takers that appear:

  • Individuals that deliberately take risks and put themselves in situations where their failures are more likely to be fatal.
  • Individuals who are more precautionary so that they can minimize the risk of the injury in sport that they participate in.

The Permanente Journal (2018) investigated the nature of extreme sports in three cases. The individuals included in the study when analysed for their actions and motivations for wanting to participate in extreme sports but also the toll that it took on themselves and their families when they lost their lives. An example of a participant is Allen. Allen was a 48YO married father of 3 teenagers who was once a successful businessman. He started to feel trapped within his social and work environment, which then triggered his want of freedom and desire for extreme sports. Allen passed away after sustaining severe injuries from base-jumping. BASE jumping involves leaping from great heights often cliffs before then freefalling and then opening up your parachute as you near towards the ground. It is thought that one on sixty BASE jumper participants die. Allen was a risk-taker who was aware of the life-endangering natured sports and embraced the thrill-seeking component of his life in sport. (The Permanente Journal, 2018) His psychological want for freedom and thrill took the toll on his family and his life. By discovering that he was once an individual that was successful and had a great family by his side, he still did not fill his void that was inside him hence the interest in extreme sports.

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Risk takers and participants of extreme sports are mentally preparing the challenge ahead. They look at all factors that would contribute to making a safe and educated decision as to whether or not it is safe to pursue. Extreme sport enthusiasts tend to have healthier physical and mental response. They do not let anxiety control their minds but instead they use their minds to dominate a challenging situation. Substance use and abuse can sometime play the part in overcoming the fear of performing their sport.

“Emotions have evolved through past constraints and pressures thus creating comparative selective advantaged for some individuals with particular traits.” (Buckley, 2018) Examples can include anxiety and fear. These creations can become an immediate threat and signal of power against ones self. Thus triggering the progression towards conservative behaviours in a natural environment such as extreme sports. “Emotions control evolutionarily conserved behaviour that is central to survival in a natural environment.” (Verma Et Al, 2016)

An interesting view expressed by Fine (2018) was saying that youth culture has taken on a new face in the 21st century and it is being driven by a consciousness and lifestyle. This has created a new vision on extreme sports, as individuals now want to further themselves to risk higher in what they do.

A personality type that would usually suit extreme sports is a Doer. These individuals have an extraverted sense of thinking and perceptive personality. They can be governed by the need for some social interaction, emotions and feelings, reasoning and logical processes, along with the want and need for freedom. (Perfect Personality, 2018) This links into their ability to risk take and further themselves to do something they would not usually do.

Extreme sport enthusiasts overcome their fears to do something that they love. This can sometimes lead onto a boost in their confidence to then believe they can tackle any situation presented to them. Their minds are created to reward themselves after accomplishing any action. When an extreme sport athlete pushes himself or herself further, they get a rush of dopamine and endorphins. They have better abilities to redefine risk with the help of their own experience. They are 100% aware of the consequence that come but also the rewards that they receive. Although there is more risk attached with extreme sports, the number of fatalities is not as high as you might think. There is overall, a higher average percentage of facing death head on in extreme sports than in normal sports. There are many sports out in the world that get different athletes heart pumping; some are just deadlier than the others.

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The Characteristics Of Extreme Sports. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
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