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To feel free as a bird, to dissolve in a cutting eye white snow, and to be closer to the Sun are the slogans of many people today. Nowadays, more and more youngsters become fond of extreme sports. They are always associated with the risk to life and release of a large dose of adrenaline in the blood. Over the past decade, new types of sports such as snowboarding, mountain boarding, BMX, kite surfing etc. were invented. "Extreme sports feature a combination of speed, height, danger, and spectacular stunts" (Extreme sports, 2012). Moreover, other traditional sports are developing in the new directions. For example, lately there were only road bikes, and now one can easily count several mountain subspecies. Many people consider extreme sports as the best vacation from the daily routine, a kind of retreat from an everyday reality. Some people say that extreme sports are better than drugs or alcohol. It is also the easiest way to assert oneself. To reach it, one does not need stacks of books to read, to pass many exams, or to argue with boss at work. Though, such simplified model of the world is unacceptable for most adults. Like in most youth subcultures, there is a certain protest against the measured and calculated adult life. Thus, an extreme sport is a world of young people; it is their creativity as well as self-expression, and a very few adults may exist in this world. Though, extreme entertainments presuppose not only much adrenaline and positivism, they may also have some serious consequences.
Nowadays, many people relate the invention of extreme sports with rock climbing and running a marathon that became very popular in 1970th. Actually, extreme sports became popular only in the 20th century when the media started to advertise and promote these activities. Now, there are many different TV channels (ESC, AXN, ESNP, Star sports etc.) as well as programs transmitting action sports all over the globe. By doing this, the media motivates and stimulates youngsters to participate in such activities.
Tomlinson (2004) classified extreme sports into several types: air, land, and water. Some distinguish one more type, mountain.
Diving is one of the most popular extreme water sports in the world. Many people usually associate it with the name of Jacques Cousteau. Though, only a few know that centuries ago even Leonardo Da Vinci was looking for a way of swimming under the water with the reservoir for air. He proposed to use fur from the wine. In drift diving (diving in currents), the current picks up the diver, as a result, one can see the whole underwater beauty without moving. One can swim keeping the legs up, sitting, or even standing in the water.
There are many other popular extreme sports including kayaking (swimming on a small light bout), drop off (swimming along coral walls without seeing the bottom that gives the feeling of flying over the abyss), cliff jumping (jumping from a high height into the water), kite surfing, windsurfing etc.
On the land surface, people feel more confident in their abilities than in the water or air. Therefore, the majority of extreme sports were created on the land. They can also be of different types, starting from roller coaster in the Disneyland or regular hiking in the woods to exploring caves. Recently, trips to different disaster sites have become popular. Extreme land sports also include extreme biking, parkour, sand boarding, sand kiting etc.
Mountains have always attracted and interested people. They have always been climbing the highest peaks of the planet. Among the most popular mountain sports, one can distinguish the following: snowboarding, mountain (rock) climbing, skiing, mountain biking: (downhill, free ride, north shore, slope style etc.), ice climbing etc.
Almost every person is dreaming to feel the freedom of a flight and to see the Earth from a height. Parachuting gives many people such opportunity. Nowadays, it is one of the most popular sports. Freestyle, sky surfing, and base jumping are very popular kinds of extreme air sports.
Though, extreme sports are not for the masses. There is a great number of people who want to feel adrenaline. They say that everybody needs adventures to some degree. Though, some people need them more; standing on the edge has become their lifestyle. Many of them are inventors, scientists, explorers, doctors etc. They state that we would never be such a fast developing and progressive society, if nobody had taken any risks at all. Many scientific, geographical, and medical discoveries were risky. Watters (2003) explains:
“The world has become far too safe, and heretofore unknown lands are mapped in far too much detail. As a consequence, we need as many outlets as possible for people to participate in challenging outdoor activities. We need wilderness lands; we need rock climbing areas; we need wild rivers; we need outdoor schools, and given proper environmental safeguards, we need free and unfettered access to outdoor areas. The right to risk is unalienable. It makes our society healthier and more vibrant.”
If we take, for example, a parkour athlete, he/she may be badly injured, but it will not have any consequences in the society in general. They may compensate the lack of adrenalin just sitting in casino, committing crime, or doing any other improper actions. Besides, playing sports is good for health. According to the research made by Children’s hospital of Philadelphia (2004), “childhood obesity has increased fivefold in the past 20 years”and it is mainly because of sitting at home and playing video games.”
Australia has always been a hard competitor. According to the report of athletics Australia (2006), “in Australia, there are almost 34,000 athletes, officials and coaches currently registered.” It means that Australians are very competitive in both traditional and extreme kinds of sports. Together with traditional types of sports played in Australia such as tennis, swimming, golf, hockey, and football, there are many extreme sports that are no less popular. The Australian top ten extreme sports are hang gliding, wind and skate surfing, jet fighter flights, bungee jumping, hot air ballooning, skydiving, diving with sharks, white water rafting, rock climbing, and mountain biking (Atkinson). Participating in such sports has a great impact on Australian and international sporting culture. Firstly, it popularizes active way of life among different segments of population. Secondly, it prevents obesity and other diseases. It also allows being in the peak of physical conditions. Thirdly, one gets a nice hobby and a good way to rest. Fourthly, there is a great feeling of endorphins and adrenalin rushing in the blood. Fifthly, there is a “mental” benefit. Being on the edge makes you think and take right decisions. Any other problematic situations at home or at work will seem a piece of cake. In addition, it is also possible to become a well-known and recognizable person.
Thus, the variety of different kinds of extreme sports astonishes. Everyone tries to invent something particularly new, in order to attract tourists or to thrill. It seems that people compete with the nature by overcoming mountain rivers, staying in dangerous caves, crossing oceans and seas, and even spending a few days in space. The only reason why people do it is to get an incredible pleasure.