Generation Y and Extreme Sports
Since 1998, the largest increases in sports participation and viewing have come from the realm of what are dubbed extreme sports. The changes come as generation Y, also known as "echo boomers," are beginning to take center stage in our culture. Generation Y, an impressive group of over 70 million, is perhaps most well known for its contempt for authority and willingness to take risks. Many companies continue to scramble to understand the implications of marketing and employing echo boomers as this generation begins to reach maturity and enter the workforce.
The common underlying theme within all extreme sports are their potential for danger. For the most part, these sports are solitary activities that allow for some amount of escape from reality and supervision - although there are a few team exceptions. Extreme sports are known for the adrenaline rush that they produce, not only in participation but often also in the act of observation. Those who study the trends understand that extreme sports aren't simply a fad - they are here to stay.
Paintball - While paintball can be taken to the extreme of individual participation in mass extermination rounds, it is often considered one of the exceptions to the "no team" aspect of extreme sports. Considered by many to be at the tame end of the spectrum, paintball involves simulated battlefield play using paint-filled pellet ammunition. The realism alone is enough to produce an adrenaline rush when playing. Individuals in a paintball match are faced with being hunted and dodging rounds while stalking their prey.
Kiteboarding - Kiteboarding, sometimes also called Kitesurfing - involves a modified surfboard with a large parachute-style sail attached. In 2008 a French kitesurfer became the first person to break the 50 knot per hour barrier and became the world record holder for fastest sailing speed. Kiteboarding usually features extreme speeds and/or gravity defying tricks and stunts performed around wakes. Because of the speeds involved, kiteboarders need to be aware of and follow the general laws of boating. Many popular beaches have banned kitesurfing due to safety concerns and high traffic.
Base Jumping - Base jumping, similar to bungee jumping, involves jumping from fixed objects with the use of a parachute or a wingsuit/parachute combination. The term base is actually an acronym that stands for the different types of fixed objects that one can jump from - building, antenna, span, or earth. Base jumping is frequently referred to as one of the more dangerous extreme sports as small errors can result in fatalities.
Extreme Skating - Extreme skating is also sometimes referred to as aggressive inline skating. Much like skateboarding, extreme skating involves the performance of tricks and aerial stunts. The inline skates used are specially developed to enhance the performance of stunts and tricks. Although aggressive skating was removed from the X-games in 2005, it continues to be a popular street sport.
While these are just a few extreme sports that echo boomers have continued to make popular, you can see from this small sample the common thread of chasing the adrenaline rush. While many extreme sports produce this rush through gravity defying tricks and stunts, not all depend upon the free fall rush. Many extreme sports involve the risk of pain, injury, or even death and ironically hearken back to the dangers involve in sports during the ancient times of Greece and Rome.