An extreme sport can be defined as any activity that has a high level of real or perceived danger. This can be anything from bungee jumping to hang gliding, scuba diving, snowboarding and rock climbing to extreme ironing – literally, anything that makes your adrenaline go up can be classified as extreme! Originally, extreme sports were associated with adult sports such as those described above, however, the term now includes sports like skateboarding and bmxing, which are also popular among teenagers.
The history of the term ‘extreme sports’ is often associated with Ernest Hemingway, who stated that ‘there are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing and mountaineering, all the others are games’. Whether or not you agree with this statement, it is clear that since the 1950s the term was associated with sports that could lead to death.
Most extreme sports are solitary activities, although there are some exceptions to the rule such as paintball (yes, it is really extreme when you enter a game) and rafting, which are clearly team sports. Most people are interested in one or more at an early age and usually only get a coach if they want to take the sport further, which is clearly different from other sports such as football and swimming, for example.
Another difference between extreme sports and normal sports is that an athlete’s performance is not as clear. For example, a person’s ability to climb rock is assessed with more subjective and aesthetic criteria, rather than with a level of speed or score. With each mountain being different, and the variables also changing in the other sports, it is simply not possible to create an established performance system. Of course, this is not the case for all extreme sports, but it is the norm for most.
Today there is even an international competition that celebrates these sports known as the x-games. This includes people who participate in extreme sports in a controlled environment. It started in 1995 in the United States and is now a very popular competition around the world. This has also allowed many extreme athletes to participate in a full-time sport due to the levels of sponsorship received.
Whether you like skateboarding or scuba diving or any of the other sports in between, one thing is for sure – your adrenaline will be rising and you’re sure you’ll have an experience that doesn’t look like any you’ve had before!