Competition adds an element of traditional sports to the world of extreme sports, a world in which athletes participate for much different reasons, say sports psychologists who study such sports.
Susan Houge Mackenzie, who studies motives for participation in extreme sports as an Assistant Professor in the Recreation, Parks, & Tourism department at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, says that common reasons for pursuing such sports are personal goal achievements, escaping boredom, pushing personal boundaries social, connecting to the natural environment, and feeling free -- more complex, in other words, than the popular conception of the "adrenaline rush."
"One of the benefits of extreme sports is that they don't have the characteristics of traditional sports," said Eric Brymer, a psychologist with a particular interest in the psychological health benefits of nature-based experiences. "It would be a real shame if the character of extreme adventure sports changed because they became heavily competitive in the traditional sporting way."
He also worries that people may act more aggressively in an already risky situation.
"The decision-making process may be altered (in competition)," he said. An athlete may think, "Well, if I were a little faster or closer I may be closer to winning -- and the the experience itself changes."
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