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Why are People Attracted to Dangerous Sports?

Gazdovici Horia, 11F

Activities that involve some danger have been done by people for the entire history of humanity, be that hunting wild animals or travelling across a varied and unpredictable landscape. Hence, dangerous sports come as a striking difference from what our neolithic ancestors might have done, as there is no real need for us to do those things. No matter how “good for the spirit” or “hardening” jumping out of an airplane with a parachute strapped to your back might be, it most certainly isn’t something that people do for survival’s sake.

Therefore, we might come upon the initial thesis that people in developed countries have the willingness and the means to practice extreme sports and that they seek what is known as an “adrenaline rush”. However, many people have described a certain feeling when falling out of an airplane at a maximum velocity that is not unlike survival instinct, which would explain why so many people do it, as most of us always try to have what we don’t, in this case, life-threatening danger. There might also be factors such as something being at stake, even if not the viewer’s life, that could drive them towards watching dangerous sports, especially those that 99% of people haven’t the means to practice. Now that we’ve loosely established what attracts people towards extreme sports, I’ll exemplify with a variety of sports that apply themselves to what has previously been mentioned.

The activities that most people choose to do themselves and not watch are activities such as paragliding, mountaineering or skydiving (as they are not all that amazing to watch, and present themselves with deeply personal experiences). These sports aren’t one-sided, as in they don’t provide the sportsman with an adrenaline rush only, but with a breath-taking view of nature that cannot be fully experienced via videos or V.R. technology or so forth.

Calcio Fiorentino, however, the sport of the city of Florence, is somewhat peculiar. It can be best understood as an archaic form of football, as it’s played in two teams (out of a total of four, each representing a different residential area of Florence) of men who try to get a ball into the other team’s territory. Sounds pretty regular, right? Except, it’s played in teams larger than twelve and the participants have little to no rules, so what they do is that they straight-up fight each other in quite a brutal fashion, many people ending up maimed from the ruthless kicks and punches carried upon them. I mentioned that Calcio Fiorentino is a peculiarity because people other than those from Florence cannot participate, so “playing”, if it even can be called that, is deeply rooted in tradition, and by doing it every year, as some do, some of the excitement might fade away and be replaced by controlled ambition.

Similar to Calcio Fiorentino are sports such as boxing or MMA (nowadays, many people that participate in Calcio are MMA practitioners), and this is something that not many people do, but instead like watching. This is where something being at stake comes into play, as UFC matches in which fighters defend their world champion belts are especially tense, the fact that this sport is so unpredictable only adding to it. So apart from all the other aspects, people watch the UFC or boxing also because of an adrenaline rush, only this is smaller compared to extreme sports that involve participation.

The final sport that I will go over is Formula 1. Again, this sport attracts viewers for many factors, the one related to the matter at hand being that there is always uncertainty as to which pilots will win the race, and what other miscellaneous events may happen, given the fact that driving cars at an average speed of 170 to 200 km per hour is quite dangerous and may result in casualties or accidents of sorts.

We may now conclude by saying that what attracts people to dangerous sports and activities is a combination of searching for intense sensations, tradition and passion for nature that sometimes leads us towards reaching new limits that we might one day overcome.

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