The History of Extreme Sports


Extreme sports have become increasingly popular. They involve a high level risk with the reward of a fantastic adrenaline high. Another bonus about competing in them is the idea of doing something faster, higher, or more dangerous than anyone else on the planet. Their evolution may be a reaction to everyday life becoming more safe and predictable (at least in some parts of the world); people are no longer worried about being taken by the elements or carnivores and most in the developed world don’t need to hunt their own meat or grow their own crops to eat. While each sport has its own history, there are some important milestones along the way that stand out in the history of extreme sports.  From bungee jumping to the rise of even professional scooter riding, the world of extreme sports has greatly evolved.


Dangerous Sports Club of Oxford University

One of first groups to hold organized extreme sporting events was the Dangerous Sports Club of Oxford University in England. It was founded in the late 1970’s. The group is credited with inventing modern day bungee jumping, and their first jump was off the CliftonSuspension Bridge in England. Later jumps followed off the Golden GateBridge in San Francisco and Royal GorgeBridge in Colorado. The club is also known for hang gliding over an active volcano.

X Games

Extreme sports became serious business when the X Games were started in the summer of 1995 by ESPN. They were first held in Newport, Rhode Island, and some of the inaugural events were bungee jumping, skateboarding, and mountain biking. In 1997, the Winter X Games made their debut at Big Bear Lake, California. Some famous participants included skateboarder Tony Hawke and Shaun White. White is the most decorated X Games athlete in history and won gold medals at both the Winter and Summer X Games in snowboarding and skateboarding, respectively. The X Games have spread worldwide; in addition to be held in the United States every year competitions also take place in China, South America, Europe, and the Middle East. ESPN and ABC started televising the games live in 2004. Due to popular demand, footage of the 2006 games was available 24 hours a day on TV and the internet.

Olympic Games

The Olympics is the world’s most prestigious sporting event as well as being one of the oldest; the ancient Olympic Games were first held over 2,000 years ago. It has also kept up with the times by embracing extreme sports events. In 1998, the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan featured snowboarding for the first time ever. BMX racing was the first extreme sport to be included at the Summer Olympic Games. By 2010, over half the extreme sports athletes at the Olympics were also participating in the X Games. More and more extreme sporting events have been added to the Olympic repertoire largely because they draw many more viewers than some of the more traditional sports. Fast forward to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in SochiRussia, which included nine new extreme sporting events, all under the watchful eye of President Vladimir Putin.

The changes in extreme sports over the years have been an exciting trip to watch. The future promises to be just as action packed.