The emergence of extreme sports has introduced a fresh and exhilarating form of competitive activities. However, the concept of athletes pushing boundaries and risking their lives is not a recent phenomenon. In ancient times, Roman chariot racing captivated crowds at the Circus Maximus with its thrilling moments and accidents. Similarly, in Mesoamerican civilizations, a ball game existed where players were sacrificed to appease the gods. Following this historical tradition, various dangerous sports continue to exist globally, showcasing remarkable bravery, skill, and occasionally resulting in fatalities.
Surfing is awesome. Surfing is cool. And surfing is the only sport in which the participants can be eaten. Ever since bands like Dick Dale and the Del Tones, The Surfaris, and The Beach Boys (most of whom didn’t surf) helped popularize it in the 1960s, surfing has become a global phenomenon, featuring endless summers of tanned bods getting amped, stoked, and tubed. The flip side to this lifestyle sport, however, is the possibility of a vicious shark attack.
The rough and tumble arena of bull riding features eight seconds (or less) of heart pounding, twisting and turning action at state fairs and rodeos across North America. While top cowboys can make a handsome living on the back of a testy, 2,000-pound bull, some riders might want to stick with the far less.
Mallory would perish during a blizzard in 1924 while attempting the first ascent of the highest point on Earth. His body wouldn’t be recovered for another 75 years. Modern climbers have benefited from technological improvements in equipment, mapping, and weather forecasting. These factors, combined with easier global access to climbing sites, have made mountaineering more popular than ever. Still, summiting Mt. Everest, the crown jewel of the sport, continues to claim lives at a record pace.
Auto racing emerged not long after the invention of the “horseless carriage” in the late 19th century. The fast-paced excitement would attract both thrill seeking competitors and spectators alike with an adrenaline-injected need for speed. Unfortunately, the lethality of flammable fuel and high-velocity collisions can result in tragic consequences with the blink of an eye, ranging from go-karting kids to racing legends such as Ayrton Senna and Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
In contrast to its more glamorous counterpart, American football, the sport of rugby doesn’t rely on bulky padding or rigid helmets. Instead, the optional headgear, known as ‘scrum caps’, resembles a soft bonnet and primarily aims to safeguard the ears rather than the skull. However, rugby players experience the same intense physicality and bone jarring collisions, leading to severe injuries that resonate with the sport’s motto: “Give Blood. Play Rugby.”