THE paper - Rebecca Richardson Linking Extreme Sport to...

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Linking Extreme Sport to Risk-Taking Rebecca Richardson November 1, 2010 Sociology of Sport 328 Professor Dufur Linking Extreme Sport Participation to Risk-Taking Behavior in Everyday Life Risk-taking behavior can occur in all aspects of life. Sports are often perceived as being positive and healthy life choices. By using sport as a sociological lens through which to see society I will be able to pinpoint and magnify the relationship or lack thereof between behavior in extreme sport and everyday life. I propose that the involvement of an individual in extreme sport will increase his or her likelihood of participating in other risk-taking behavior. Literature Review To help answer the question at large I will turn to the literature and research that has already been published. In the first section I will describe in detail the construct of extreme sport as used in this paper. I will then discuss the target population of individuals participating in extreme sports. I will analyze their outward traits such as race, sex, and class as well as their psychological characteristics, such as motive, personality, and belief. Finally, I will evaluate past and pending theories that aid in explaining why individuals participate in such risk-taking behavior. In this paper, extreme sport is defined as any athletic endeavor that involves risk to the human body. This paper includes a myriad of research on such activities, from white water rafting to sky diving to surfing. The construct of extreme sport relates heavily to the term
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“edgework” as known in sociology. Edgework is described as an activity that implies an apparent hazard to one’s health, both mental and physical (Lyng, 1990). In the broader sense, edgework could be applied to high risk taking behavior, such as the use of hallucinogenic drugs and the consumption of alcohol or low risk taking behavior, such as riding a rollercoaster. As applied to sport, this behavior is known as “working the edge”, an idea that one can construct and maintain control over their environments, regardless of how perilous they may appear (Laurendeau, 2006). Many extreme sports entail an ideal of conquering the unconquerable in nature. Nature maintains an aspect of uncertainty, allowing athletes to push themselves to the limits on a day to day basis. While the term edgework is most commonly applied to sport, the term risk-taking is most commonly applied to everyday life. Risk-taking is simply exposing oneself to the likelihood of death or injury. This term explains reckless behavior such as driving fast or breaking rules (Le Brenton, 2004). Risk-taking in everyday life and edgework in sports often combine to create an even more thrilling experience. Athletes can artificially increase the risk of their extreme sport with behavior like taking drugs while skydiving or mountain climbing without an oxygen tank (Lyng, 1990). Extreme sport has in some places turned into a product for consumption. By artificially recreating an intense physical environment full of risk and
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THE paper - Rebecca Richardson Linking Extreme Sport to...

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