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The Thrill of Extreme Sports

Risking your life can be bad for your health.

“Didn’t you jump out a plane once?” my brother-in-law asked. I could hear my sister’s voice in the background saying, “No way!”

Life is death-defying enough. While I realize you’re more likely to be killed or injured riding in a car or on a bike, I see no reason to up the chances by engaging in high-flying hobbies that are hazardous to my health.

When I feel the need to live on the edge, I shop at Walmart on Black Friday or check out the handbag sample sale at Lord & Taylor. To keep my adrenals pumped abroad, I might cross a street in Mumbai, dodging speeding motor scooters, honking tut-tuts and lumbering elephants, or jog down the cobblestone streets of Rome sporting the latest stilettos.

Skydiving holds zero appeal. In 2010, there were 21 fatal accidents — one death for every 142,000 jumps — often from parachute malfunction, the jumper’s mistake or loss of consciousness.

“You’d never get me off the plane,” I told my sister.

“You’d never get me on it,” she replied.

I used to watch the hang gliders near Ocean Beach in San Francisco, gracefully catching the currents of air, floating lightly as I do in water. Then I heard how many flyers were maimed or killed. Icarus came to mind. Hang gliding, it turns out, is one of the most dangerous in-air sports, with more fatalities than skydiving.

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I’ve ridden on motorcycles, whitewater rafted, scuba dived, and hiked narrow trails in Hawaii with sheer cliff drops to the lava beds below. Now I prefer snorkeling on the surface, walking through redwood groves, and watching an occasional thriller on HBO. I’m storing up my adrenaline, ready to face the random tiger in the forest or careen through New York City with my 90-year-old mother in the driver’s seat.

Writing prompt: What's the most extreme sport you've ever done? Why?

Copyright © 2012 by Laura Deutsch

 

Laura Deutsch is a San Francisco-based writer. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and More magazine, among others.

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