User:Granado23/The Future of Extreme Sport

From Wikiversity
Jump to: navigation, search
Sandboarding in Dubai.jpg

This article discusses the future of extreme sports relating to business and politics. The article looks at the role of consumerism and motivations that drive participation rates to constantly increase. Extreme sports is a booming sporting industry, and the limits are endless to the heights in which the entertainment of extreme sports can reach. The article also comments of the issue of commodification and the role of marketing in respect to the topic area. The contrast between national and international extreme sports development is discussed with reference to participation rates and the business economy. Sub cultures of extreme sports play an important role in the understanding of the lifestyle these athletes live. Unlike conventional sports, extreme sports athletes pride theme selves on their ability to be active whilst expressing their creative sub cultures. Extreme sports are attracting more and more spectators and participants each year, there for it is evident that the future develpment of the industusrty is promising. Ultimatly the article will invite you to understand the emerging importance and relevance of extreme sports not just in business, but to those whome embrace the culture.


Extreme sports are rapidly acquiring the status of mainstream sports and are increasingly recognized as a profitable enterprise by both the sports and business industry. The significance of this article is to clarify the increasing trend in action sports participation rates over the years. As recently as 15 years ago, extreme sports had little to no presence on the national stage. Participants were labelled as rebels with out a cause and were reprimanded for their eccentric use of public spaces. In the mid 1990s the youth of America began to embrace the sub-cultures that surrounded extreme sports and the gnarly enthusiasts that participated in them, seeing a shift in the public perception of extreme sports. Driven by enthusiasts who continually test the boundaries of impossible, extreme sports culture is now a mainstream lifestyle that heavily influences billions of dollars of consumer spending. Extreme sports are an appealing recreational and athletic option for countless individuals. On an international scale extreme sports have numerous corporate events and competitions making the sports appeal to a wider target audience.

Action sports are becoming increasingly popular amongst youthful generations in terms of an alternative option to conventional sports participation. According to professional skateboarder Rob Dyrdek, “Action sports are a lifestyle, not a recreational sport or hobby".[1] In the past decade Action sports such as BMX and Snowboarding have developed into Olympic competition events, gaining the attention of many conventional sporting enthusiasts. This also raises the question as to ‘what the future holds for action sports development?’

What are action sports?[edit]

I love X-mini Stickers on skateboards at the Mettle Games in Singapore. Image by RyanLee11

Extreme sports, also know as action sports, is a term used to describe the actives that occupy a high level of inherent risk and involve being counter-cultural. The term ‘extreme sport’ often is used to describe a multitude of various activities, however which sports are considered ‘extreme’ is considered to be debatable. There are several characteristics common to most extreme sports. They often consist of speed, height, danger, high levels of physical exertion, specialised gear and creativity involved with stunts and manoeuvres. The distinction between an extreme sport and a conventional sport has much to do with marketing as it has to do with perceptions about the characteristics and levels of danger and adrenaline involved. For example, conventional sports like Rugby Union, though dangerous and adrenaline inducing would not be classified as an extreme sport due to its traditional image and the fact that it does not have certain cultural characteristics that extreme sports do. In addition to the generational divide, a major aspect of extreme sports is a counter-cultural aura. This may be seen as a rejection of authority and status quo by disaffected youth. The youth of Generation Y have seized upon activities which they can claim as their own, and have begun rejecting more traditional sports in increasing numbers. The trend towards increasing participation in action sports by members of Generation Y indicates a particular need to study the factors affecting participant motivation for this age group.

In recent decades the term ‘extreme sport’ was further promoted by the X Games Corporation, a multi action sport event created and developed by ESPN. The first X Games were held in Newport, Mount Snow, Providence and Vermont USA in 1995. Extreme sports these days applies more to youth sports like surfing, skateboarding, BMX, snowboarding, and motocross and is closely associated with the marketing efforts aimed at the younger generation. Advertisements from corporations such as Mountain Dew and Nike portray and associate the youth with extreme sports through their favoured styles of clothing and music. The shift in styles may be partly due to a generational shift, as Baby Boomers and Generation X and marketing efforts associated with extreme sports have shifted towards Generation Y demographic since the mid to late 1990’s.[2]

Fuel TV’s First Hand television series is a documentary that gives an insight into the lifestyles and personalities of the big name extreme sports athletes. The series depicts these athletes as elite sporting stars and allows viewers to understand the motives and cultures that surround the lifestyle they live. Like rockstars and Hollywood celebrities, an action sports hero lives a life of world travel, fame, and sometimes fortune. Along with the good life, riders also experience the highs and lows of competing and attempting to do what they love most, ride. In Firsthand, athletes tell all and invite viewers into their private lives as they experience everything that is the life of a pro athlete (Fuel TV). This piece of digital literature is significant as it can be studied to assist in the assumption of why sub-cultures are involved action sports.[3]

The media often portrays and differentiates extremes sports from traditional sports by categorising the activities involved as having a high number of inherently uncontrollable variables. Extreme athletes not only compete against other athletes in their field, but also against environmental obstacles and self challenges. These environmental variables include natural phenomena that have an effect on weather and terrain (wind, snow, water and mountains). As theses elements cannot be controlled, they inevitably affect the outcome of the particular activity or event.

Why are action sports enthusiasts attractive to marketers?[edit]

Red Bull FIM Motocross of Nations 2008, Donington Park (England). 35 Nations, 5 Colours. Image by Mark

In terms of commodification and extreme sports, it can be seen how the sporting genre is utilised to create niche products and market goods for the target demographic. It can be argued that energy drinks are a success due to the extreme sports market, along with profitable events like the X Games competition which receives millions of dollars due to exclusive television rites with the ESPN network.[4]

Advertisers are using action sports as an effective way to keep their brands “cool” in the minds of America’s youth. These consumers are wary of traditional marketing tactics but are receptive to brands that truly embrace and support their culture. Action sports participants are strong influencers within the 12- to 28-year-old demographic and marketing savvy companies are finding innovative ways to connect with them. Brands like Mountain Dew, Panasonic, Toyota, and Right Guard are examples of the wide array of industries that are making significant investments to reach action sports enthusiasts.

Below previous studies display action sport participation rates in America in 2007


Extreme Sport Number participated at least once in 2007
1. Inline Skating 10,814,000
2. Skateboarding 8,429,000
3. Mountain Biking 6,892,000
4. Snowboarding 6,841,000
5. Paintball 5,476,000
6. Cardio Kickboxing 4,812,000
7. Climbing (Indoor, Sport, Boulder) 4,514,000
8. Trail Running 4,216,000
9. Ultimate Frisbee 4,038,000
10. Wakeboarding 3,521,000
11. Mountain/ Rock Climbing 2,062,000
12. BMX Bicycling 1,887,000
13. Roller Hockey 1,847,000
14. Boardsailing/Windsurfing 1,118,000

Internal and External drivers can be seen as main influences for individuals to become involved with a particular extreme sport. These factors may include environmental surroundings (eg: if your residential location is near the snow you might be enticed to learn to ski or snowboard), media influences, consumer motivation, physiological and psychological benefits, thrill seeking, social impacts and cultural motivation. Extreme sports offer to the individual an opportunity to express their creativity through incorporating their sub culture with their sporting performance. This can be viewed as the main attraction to individuals becoming involved with an extreme sport.

Media outlets like action sport films, magazines, video games and online websites have a major influence on the cultural make up of action sport participants. There are now full time cable channels like Fuel TV, dedicated to action sports viewers. Increased awareness of a particular action sport is achieved through media outlets as the large youth demographic are reachable through this marketing stream. Consumer products and brand power from major extreme sports companies assist in the motivation of action sports culture. Individuals involved with snowboarding for example, will presumably purchase niche brands and products related to their sports culture. These brands may include Burton, a niche snowboarding label that only produces snowboarding gear and equipment. Superstar stature athletes also help push consumer motivations as they are the endorsers behind the brands that influence action sports culture. It is because of these famed athletes that certain associated brands and products gain awareness within the market. In terms of psychological and physiological characteristics involved with action sports sub-cultures, individuals tend to not care to much about health benefits that may come with their selected sport, but alternatively have the drive to thrill seek and gain high levels of adrenaline.

Surfing Santa Cruz. Image by

Extreme Sports from a National and International Perspective[edit]

Australia’s outlook on extreme sports is relatively positive, producing large numbers of athletes that dominate certain sports like surfing, skateboarding, BMX and motocross in particular, at the highest level. Australian professionals Owen Wright (Pro Surfer) and Torah Bright (Pro Snowboarder) are examples of young promising talent in the industry. Owen Wright is Australia’s top surfer ranked number 4 in the world. This year he has consecutively competed against surfing legend Kelly Slater in three finals series beating him once at the Quicksilver Pro in New York.[6] Torah Bight won Australias first Gold medal for snowboarding in the winter Olympics in 2010. She is the best female snowboarder in the world and constantly is a threat in any competition she enters.[7] These two athletes are ambassadors for extreme sports in Australia at a tender age were they have plenty of time to progress in terms of their careers and athletic achievements. With the level of professional athletes booming in Australia, the sky is the limit for extreme sports development.

Australias corporate stand in the world of the extreme sports market looks dominate as well. Australian professional are all sponsored by international and domestic brands, generating profits for all companies and persons involved. In recent years it can be noticed that the increased funding from both the local and state government has assisted in the development of extreme sport facilities. These facilities include skate parks, indoor/outdoor rock-climbing centres, motocross fields and various surf clubs. Extreme sports retail outlets have also increased around the nation due to the popular demand for niche sporting goods. The government may decide to introduce extreme sports participation programs into schools as an option for recreational activity. If this strategy would to be implemented students would be given the opportunity to explore their physical interest and we would see the development of extreme sports positively change.

On an international level extreme sports has established itself as a dominate market. Every extreme sport has a major event sponsored by billion dollar corporate companies. For example both the summer and winter X-Games competition is sponsored by energy drink leader Redbull. As previously discussed media outlets encourage extreme sports enthusiasts to excel and become immersed in the sub-culture associated with the sports. Extreme sports in todays society is rapidly becoming more acceptable as a serious means of athletic performance. Extreme sports athletes around the world receive millions of dollars in sponsorship and competition earnings. That being said, being a professional extreme sports athlete is a well respected profession. Niche extreme sports brands and products are constantly being produced, expanding the commercial market for the industry. America is veiwed as the world leader of extreme sports development and entertainment with a majority of the sports being developed in the nation.


The social impacts that associate with action sports, occupy participants motives to become involve with their sport. Individuals often become involved with action sports due to its social benefits and self manageable progression and development. Compared to conventional sports, with most action sports there is no need for a coach or strict diet/training schedule. Liberty and independence is gained through the sub-culture of action sports participation, and may be the main reason for the increasing numbers of for participation rates over the years. The fact that action sports athletes have so much freedom is a credit to the lifestyle they live.


The following link is to the video presentation that supports this article:


  1. Fuel TV. (1/11/2011) [1]. Rob Dyrdek talks Street League
  2. The Active Market Group. (1/11/2011) [2]. The Action Sports Market
  3. Fuel TV Firsthand. (1/11/2011) [3]. Firsthand
  4. EXPN X Games Guide. (1/11/2011) [4]. The History of the X Games
  5. SGMA. (1/11/2011) [5]. Extreme Sports: An Ever-Popular Attraction
  6. FuelTv Will Swanton. (1/11/2011) [6]. Owen Wright wins Quiksilver Pro New York, Kelly Slater hails Australian as greatest world title threat
  7. Transworld Snowboarding. (1/11/2011) [7]. Torah Bright Wins Olympic Gold