Extreme sports as a precursor to environmental sustainability
Extreme sports have unfortunately gained a reputation for being risk focused and adrenaline fuelled. This perspective has obscured the place of the natural world, making extreme athletes appear to seek to conquer, compete against or defeat natural forces. In contrast, this paper explores findings from a larger hermeneutic phenomenological study that suggests extreme sports can initiate a positive change in participants’ relationships with the natural world. Data sources include first-hand accounts of extreme sports participants such as biographies, videos, papers and journals as well as interviews with ten male and five female extreme sports participants. Reports indicate that extreme sport participants develop feelings of connection to the natural world and describe themselves as being at one with the natural world or connected through a life enhancing energy. The paper draws on theoretical perspectives in ecopsychology which suggest that feeling connected to nature leads to a desire to care for the natural world and contributes to more environmentally sustainable practices.