Why Are We Attracted to Extreme Sports?

 July 6, 2023

By  Kyrie Mattos

For many of us, extreme sports are a major part of our life. Whether it is deep sea diving, mountain biking, or even high-lining across the Grand Canyon, there is an almost primal need to experience the most extreme of sports and feel alive doing so. But not everyone understands that.

For some, the closest they get to their favorite sport is attending a game or placing a bet at one of the best online sportsbooks. But for extreme sports junkies, there has to be something more. But why do we get so invested in pushing ourselves to the limits of human endurance?

Not a Death Wish

People who don’t understand the attraction of extreme sports usually fall back on the opinion that those who do are just adrenaline junkies with death wishes. But there have been a number of studies that show that a nihilistic attitude toward life is not a common prerequisite for extreme sports fans.

In fact, it can be the complete opposite. A real lust for life is far more common among extreme sports enthusiasts. It is just that lust materializes itself in pastimes that the majority of people regard as reckless. Competition may play its part, but for most, it is an intensely personal experience.

Life Experiences

There is a distinctly human need to experience life. It may come from a previously boring existence or a feeling that there must be more. But, whatever triggers that feeling, extreme sports fans obviously want that experience to be more than the mundane offerings of everyday life.

It could be that we want to be able to go back to our friends and share the stories of our experiences. But there is also an element of being able to prove to yourself that you can achieve something not many others can. Talk to anyone interested in extreme sports, and they will tell you that they don’t want to come to the end of their life and have regrets.

Building Confidence

It is surprising how many people that enjoy extreme sports have backgrounds where low self-esteem was an issue. The stereotype of an enthusiast is one of a larger-than-life personality who is always the center of attention and takes great delight in doing so.

But the bravado of that stereotype may come from a far more introverted place. There is obviously a need to build the confidence to partake in extreme sports. But it could come from a feeling of setting yourself challenges to put you outside of your own comfort zone.

These activities can also build confidence

Spiritual Element

When cliff divers are asked what they are thinking as they hurl themselves off a precipice, the expected response is probably one that involves fear. But anyone who actually dives off of cliffs will know that it can be a very spiritual experience. There is adrenaline, of course. But a curious calmness is also part of it.

This spiritual feeling is not necessarily religious – although it can be. But extreme sports can provide a physical and emotional feeling that brings the participant closer to the world and the nature of the moment. As opposed to a rush that takes over the body, there can be much more of a slowing down of reality.


Scientific studies tend to show that a person who enjoys extreme sports will usually have some kind of a sensation-seeking personality. These people will become restless if they are not doing something and may find it difficult to relax. Part of that is down to a need to push themselves – without thinking of the consequences.

As much as we convince ourselves that extreme sports are safe, we also know that a major reason why we do them is that they include taking risks. That is how we feel alive, among all the other reasons we have already gone through. Impulse is everything, and acting on them seems entirely normal. When it comes down to it, we just want to live our lives to the fullest – however that manifests itself.

Kyrie Mattos


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