Extreme sports: thrill, excite many, but dangerous

By Meghan Hurley
November 18, 2005

Brian Coary

Extreme sports are steadily taking the United States by storm. It is becoming less and less uncommon to hear about people participating in skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX bike racing, mountain biking, wake boarding and motocross. The popularity of extreme sports has catapulted them into the mainstream with a loyal following of fans and participants.

Dictionary.com defines extreme sports as “any recreational activities that involve high risk, aggressive and spectacular stunts, and which appeal to the young.” These sports use the same equipment, slightly modified in order for the user to be able to do the stunts and tricks required.

Examples of extreme sports are BMX bike riding, skateboarding and in-line skating. BMX, which stands for bicycle motocross, bike riding is done on a smaller, specially made bike. According to Wikipedia.com, Riders race these bikes on tracks of sand and hills. They can also take their bikes on courses with benches, picnic tables, handrails, curbs and ramps, something known as BMX freestyle. BMX riders also perform a number of tricks on the tiny bike that involve flipping the body and rotating the bike at the same time.

Another popular extreme sport is skateboarding. Skateboarding is all about balance and being able to maneuver a small board on wheels with only the feet. Skateboarding becomes extreme when riders are put through courses with ramps and pipes. According to buzzle.com, “highly skilled skateboarders can perform stunts involving sitting, kneeling, turning, spinning, jumping over obstacles, moving backward and forward and balancing on one or two hands.”

In-line skating is also an extreme sport growing in status. Like skateboarding and BMX riding, what makes in-line skating extreme is the course the skaters are put through and the tricks they perform. Courses usually include rails and curbs that the skater has to jump off of and perform complicated tricks in the air. Skaters also perform in a half-pipe where they launch themselves into the air, flipping their bodies around before they have to land again.

Extreme sports were brought into the spotlight when ESPN created the X Games in 1995. Every year there is a summer X Games and a winter X Games. According to hickoksports.com, events in the summer games include barefoot water-ski jumping, bicycle stunt riding, bungee jumping, in-line skating, motocross, skateboarding, sky surfing, street luge and wakeboarding. The winter games have events like free skiing, ice climbing, motocross, shovel racing, ski boarding, snowboarding, snow BMX Racing and snowmobiling.

While these extreme sports cause an undeniable adrenaline rush, there is a very elevated risk of danger involved. When performing any of these acts that take a person high into the air, the landing has to be just right or the consequences could be devastating. Broken bones, paralysis and even death can result from a failed extreme sport attempt.

Dave Mirra, a champion BMX rider, severely injured his spleen when he caught his shirt on his bike and smashed into the ground. Cary Hart, a professional motocross rider, broke his femurs in six places, broke his shin, broke his wrist and almost bled to death when he hit a tractor during a practice run. Also, Matt Hoffman, another professional BMX champion, has had 16 major surgeries in the 16 years that he has been a professional competitor in this sport, according to kidzworld.com.

Even though the dangers are evident, the popularity of these precarious sports continues to grow.

According to a press release from SGMA International for 2004, the number of people participating in in-line skating was 17,348,000; the number of participants in BMX riding was 2,642,000, and the number of skateboarders was 11,592,000.

Posted to the web by Brian Coary

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Meghan Hurley

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