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Not until recently, people portrayed extreme sports participants as unskilled risk seekers, who don’t appreciate life and usually have either addiction to danger or an unhealthy desire to prove themselves. Although the majority held a negative attitude on extreme sports when extreme sports first emerged, extreme sports have not disappeared but have gained popularity and acceptance as time goes by. Today, the society realizes that doing high risk sports are beneficial to individual in unexpected ways. In fact, extreme sports intensify people’s lives emotionally, intellectually and physically. People become more emotionally stable when encountering danger by doing extreme sports, because extreme sports help them to know more about fear. As the fear of excessive height and speed help human ancestor to survive, the fear passes down to people today and keep people from the cliff and help them avoid the danger of crashing (Leahy). While people are born with the fear, extreme sports expose people to great height and speed. Therefore, extreme sport participants face a high level of fear, which triggers panic constantly. So the challenges and benefits of extreme sports are discussed in this essay.
When I started to snowboard, the height of the mountain frightened me so much that my body was stiff when I slid down from the snow trail at first. However, gradually, I felt better and could control myself to do new performance even if I still feel fearful. The change of my feeling results from my enhanced experience on snowboarding. According to Brymer and Mackenzie, when different individuals encounter the same problem, each of them interprets the problem with their own feeling, motivation, and knowledge. In other words, as for the people who have no or little experience in extreme sports, a low level of danger overwhelms them. However, to those who do extreme sports often, they can control themselves better because of their experience. The reason behind the positive change is that extreme sports offer people lots of opportunities to face panic. The experience of fear helps people become familiar about panic attacking and find strategies to deal with it. A mountain climber, who could not put himself or herself together at first, gradually have become sensitive to panic and found a way to calm down. The climber says, “I could often feel the panic rising, and I used to talk myself” (Brymer and Schweitzer 482). Thanks to the experience of mountain climbing, this climber is capable to notice the rise of panic and control his or her emotion quickly.
Extreme sports teach participants to use “coping mechanisms” (Chavez) to deal with panic and objectify fear. The ability to maintain emotionally stable helps them have a good clarity and good judgment, and then they can make the best use of their mind and body. When facing challenge, extreme sports participants panic less often and waste less time on emotion compared to others. Experience on extreme sports allows them to get distracted less and thus perform better. Not only helps participants get rid of panic, but extreme sports experience also influences participants body’s natural status in the presence of danger. Although still experiencing panic rising, extreme sports participants experience excitement when they encounter with danger. Our body states connecting to fear reaction are generally telic state and paratelic state. When in telic state, people tend to be primarily serious, goal-oriented and arousal avoidant. Telic state is the one that people naturally stay in. When people first start to participate in extreme sports, only a few of them enjoy the existence of fear and the triggered panic. People generally want to reach the end of the process as fast as possible. As a result, they are goal oriented and the extreme sports make them suffer. Then, according to the research of Kerr and Mackenzie, the more excessive arousal that the new starters feel, the more anxiety and scared they feel. However, for those skillful extreme sports participants, doing extreme sports is more enjoyable as they switch to the paratelic state more. Paratelic state is a more spontaneous, playful and arousal seeking state, where activities are pursued as ends within themselves, and attentional focus is absorbed in the process- oriented goals of the activity.
As seen from this essay, to keep themselves safe and make progress in extreme sports, extreme sports participants focus on their performance more than their negative emotion. While learning new skill and feeling panic less, participants find pleasure in extreme sports. Then excitement comes with high arousal brought by danger. Rather than running away from danger, extreme sports participants connect excitement with extreme sports and start to seek thrill and adventure. Gradually, extreme sports no longer make them suffer. As the extreme sports participants experience positive emotion, the natural body states of them in the presence of danger also change. Since extreme sports participants switch to paratelic state more often, their body remembers this state and makes it the dominant state when experiencing fear later. As a result, when facing challenge in real life, people with experience in extreme sports feel less afraid and more excited. As excitement is a positive emotion, people embrace it and thus hold a more positive attitude toward challenge. Thanks to the extreme sports, participants experience this emotional transformation, which encourages people to accept challenges that benefits them in life.
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