Clearly, extreme sports have gained immense popularity over the past two decades. If trained properly, the human body is capable of peak performances under the most extreme and life-threatening circumstances. According to the 2012 study by Dominika Kupciw and Alexandra MacGregor, extreme sports are defined as “activities where the possibility of injury or fatality is an inherent part of participation, and specialised equipment and training is generally required to minimise the risks involved.”
Ever since the rise in popularity and, naturally, the increase in death rates, scientists have been trying to explain why many humans are drawn towards performing extreme sports. From an evolutionary perspective, it seems unreasonable to put yourself in such danger. Fear appears to be a logical emotional response to ensure people’s survival and should not simply be ignored.
On the other hand, Kupwic and MacGregor correctly state that “[t]he need for individuals to take risks is a fundamental aspect of human nature; the caveman would not have emerged from the cave to feed his family if he hadn’t taken risks.”
Recent research has focused on the fact that extreme sports are not only being performed by complete lunatics – it is mostly not the danger per se that keeps people coming back but more so the attempt of controlling the risk as well as the physical challenges. When confronted with extreme situations, they take charge. The potential risk of addiction to the high release of dopamine should also not be underestimated.
Before you run to the next outdoors shop and get your BASE-jumping gear sorted, you better have a read of the top 14 most dangerous extreme sports that your body can possibly survive – but doesn’t necessarily have to.
1. BASE jumping
Essentially, BASE jumping is parachuting. However, you wouldn’t be jumping out of planes but from BASE structures, namely from a building, antenna, span and earth (cliffs). This is why BASE jumping is considered one of the most dangerous extreme sports with an average of one fatality in sixty participants (2008 study by Anton Westman et al.). Many BASE-jumpers also love using a wing suit – which doesn’t make the activity any less dangerous, though.
In May 2015, extreme sports legend Dean Potter was found dead in Yosemite National Park. Reportedly, he and his friend attempted to jump off the 3,500-feet-high Taft Point. Both jumped to their deaths.
Inherently, it is not the actual sport killing people. It is human error, one single mistake. If the parachute has been packed the wrong way, if some lines are tangled – then you simply won’t have enough time to react when BASE jumping.