Hang glider launching from a mountain

Pros and Cons of Allowing Kids to Play Extreme Sports

Many people spend their lives believing “you only live once, so enjoy the ride!” and for their enjoyment and thrill, they opt for the freedom of extreme sports. Particularly many youngsters get attracted to the spectacular stunts performed in sports like bungee jumping, surfing, sky-diving, snowboarding, skateboarding, etc.

The adrenaline rush is what mostly drives athletes and enthusiasts with extreme adventure interests to take part in these sporting activities. They claim that it gives them a sense of being “alive” and “living on the edge.”

Proponents of extreme sports believe that it allows children to take age-appropriate risks, overcome their fears, and push their limits. On the other hand, critics argue that it can be too dangerous for them to attempt stunts that are too advanced, resulting in serious injuries – or even death.

Extreme Sports Variants

While all kinds of sports carry a certain degree of excitement and thrill along with the associated risks, there are a few that are regarded as extreme. Over the years, these sports have attracted several sponsors who are now actively seeking opportunities to fund such events and broadcast them worldwide.

The commercial element of Extreme Sports has made these more accepted in main-stream media and are now also being covered in various World-Record books with vast coverage and fan-following. These result in many children watching, reading, and following their heroes showcasing stunts that were previously only viewed in action movies.

Extreme Sports have various variants on land, sea, and air. While they all carry a high degree of risk, the excitement and thrill of watching them live or on television are growing in numbers. Extreme Sports over land include snowboarding, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, dune surfing, cave diving, motorsport (mountain-biking), skateboarding, etc.

Water sports have now also included many extreme sports, such as cliff-diving, high-tide surfing, deep-sea diving, jet-ski stunts, powerboat stunts, canoeing, etc. Whereas sky-diving, paragliding, airplane stunts, free-diving, and sky-surfing top the list amongst aerial sporting activities.

Pros

Playfully Fit

All kinds of sporting activities, including extreme sports, allows one to have fun and stay fit and active. It provides a full-body workout in a fun way. Experts believe that participating in extreme sporting activities allows an individual to maintain body-mass healthily and burn calories without feeling the dread of going to the gym.

Of course, the more extreme the sporting activity, the more it engages the human muscles to burn fat and consistent flow of blood.

Being involved in this kind of intense physical activity has many health benefits. For instance, you can strengthen your biceps and triceps by performing aerials jumps on a BMX bike. Or tone your quadriceps and lower leg muscles by riding a snowboard down a mountain slope.

You can even burn up to 500 calories by skateboarding for an hour. This is so much more exciting than just running on a treadmill or lifting weights at the gym!

Learning to Take Risk

Being active offers many benefits in the form of both physical and emotional development for children. Showing interest in extreme exports can be considered a sign of being free and enjoying the outdoors.  However, many parents fear that their children will injure themselves in the process, or worse, lose their lives trying to perform stunts that are not supervised our conducted without proper equipment.

On the other hand, sports experts and children psychologists believe that overprotectiveness of parents often keeps their off-springs from becoming accomplished athletes or maintaining an active lifestyle.

Risk is a fact of life, and kids from a young age should know when to take a risk and when not to. Simply put, there are plenty of risks associated when riding a bike down the road or just driving to the next block – in both circumstances, there is always an inherent fear of meeting an accident. However, no one stops doing this; instead, precautions are taken, such as wearing a helmet while riding a bike or wearing a seatbelt while driving. Therefore, letting youngsters enjoy sports in a regulated environment under the supervision of professionals is a safe bet.

Some children love to be challenged and take chances. Restricting children from doing something risky will deprive them of opportunities to test themselves and overcome their fears; hence, they lack confidence as they move further in life.

Meeting New People

Performing extreme sports is a good way to meet new people and make friends with like-minded enthusiasts. Children can make a lifetime worth of memories when performing these sports activities. They can develop a deeper bond with their teammates – sharing experiences of performing stunts together. Simultaneously, encouraging one another to push to new limits is always a good morale-booster and a sign of encouragement.

Cons

Serious Injuries

Despite taking necessary precautions, athletes suffer serious injuries. Stunts performed by them are extremely dangerous, resulting in broken bones, or worse, lifelong disabilities or even death.

Out of excitement, children attempt stunts that they are not ready for, which can have major and sometimes even lethal consequences. Even the slightest mistake can be deadly for extreme athletes. Although the possibility of getting injured is there in any sport, the severity of injuries increases drastically in extreme sports.

For example, every year, approx. 30 people die during rock climbing, and 21 from skydiving, according to the United States Parachuting Association. Such stats are the primary reason parents discourage their children from risking their lives in these unsafe activities, even if it’s “just for fun”!

Cost of Equipment

It is believed that with the use of adequate protective equipment, serious injuries during extreme sports can be prevented. However, these protective gears come at a steep cost and aren’t always affordable for everyone. The best extreme sports gears are very expensive and are constantly being upgraded, with each new model being more expensive than the previous ones.

As a child’s growth is apparent and fast, it is always expensive for parents/guardians to buy new sizes of protective gear for their children so that it fits perfectly. Regardless, children are more vulnerable to the effects of injuries and may take longer to recover. Therefore, to avoid the added expense, parents usually discourage their children from participating in sports where there is a constant safety expense.

Other Troubles

While most extreme sports are designed for a certain age group (and above), there are a few that are undertaken by children from an early age, such as skateboarding and rollerblading. Athletes do have their designated venues to hone their skills, but sometimes kids use public areas or private property as their field of play. This can get them into trouble; for instance, many young skateboarders perform stunts in the parking lot and can get a ticket for it.

Are Extreme Sportsreally worth it?

Extreme Sports, albeit carrying a certain degree of challenges and safety hazards, build on the confidence, gut, and enthusiasm in athletes of every age (especially kids).

Young thrill-seekers are not afraid of the consequences and only wish to live their lives to the fullest. Hence, the debate about permitting children to perform extreme sporting activities may continue for some time. Adrenaline-junkies will continue to promote the sport and encourage youngsters – including their children – to keep the sport alive.

Today, there are many institutes with professionally trained staff and readily-available protective gear being established across the globe. Sporting bodies are building regulations to ring-fence the dangers around each sport to further limit injuries and death. Moreover, they are bringing in a larger commercial appeal for sporting promotions.

A few of these extreme sports are already part of the Olympics and other global sporting events; therefore, their acceptance is largely recognized and institutionalized by parents and society at large.