Should Teens Do Extreme Sports?

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Big-thrill activities like snowboarding and rock climbing are skyrocketing in popularity. Do these sports teach healthy risk-taking—or put precious futures in jeopardy?


Yes: Extreme sports build confidence and body awareness. 

Taking risks is a way of teaching yourself bravery, and stepping outside of your comfort zone to do something that scares you can make you feel empowered—even if you don’t get it right the first time. That’s why extreme sports are perfect for teens, who are eager to learn and perfect new passions.

I’ve been snowboarding since I was 9 years old, and I’ve loved every bit of the sport since. Being on the slopes for hours a day helped me gain an understanding of the way my body works. I learned which muscles are responsible for which movements, how to adjust my technique to avoid injury, and what my physical limitations are. Snowboarding taught me how to push myself, especially when I was scared of falling. And it made me more persistent because one way or another, I always have to make it to the bottom of the slope.

I believe every teen should be able to experience those benefits, and many more. All sports, especially extreme ones, require physical exertion, which keeps you in great shape. They also introduce you to a positive community of people who share the same interests and are always willing to help you improve. And—because it must be noted—the adrenaline rush from an extreme sport is much healthier than the high that some teenagers might seek from unhealthy activities such as drug use.

Even the best extreme athletes get hurt sometimes, but fear of injury shouldn’t prevent teens from participating in a sport they enjoy. With a helmet and proper padding (and some patience!), they’ll minimize the chance of injury and benefit from all the great things extreme sports have to offer. If they never try, they’ll never know how good they could become.

Adults need to stop doubting teenagers so much! An extreme sport can teach us patience, control, and discipline—and it might even become an activity that we fall in love with in the process.

No: Extreme sports put unnecessary strain on growing bodies.
It is terrific for teens to take risks and experiment with new challenges, but participating in extreme sports pushes the boundaries of what is healthy and safe. Why chance a trip to the emergency room for just a few seconds of adrenaline?

A certain level of maturity and stability is necessary when choosing to take a risk, and most teens haven’t yet reached that level. Because the decision-making part of our brain isn’t fully grown, we’re naturally more impulsive and prone to taking risks without any calculations. So it is important that we learn to take responsibility for our bodies and to pause and consider what might go wrong. During the teen years, our bodies are still maturing, so an injury from extreme sports could damage bones or growth plates, leading to major lifelong consequences.

But the lasting effects of a bad fall or collision aren’t the only reasons to steer clear of extreme sports; injuries are disruptive in the short term too. They can keep teens out of school for weeks, setting students back and possibly preventing them from progressing to the next grade on time.

Injuries can also stop teens from further participation in sports and fun school activities like prom. (I imagine it’s pretty hard to dance in a leg cast!) And that’s not to mention 

the physical pain that accompanies broken bones, sprains, and concussions.

Additionally, risk-taking can get addictive. If you engage in extreme sports and nothing goes wrong, you might keep pushing for more-dangerous experiences. Meanwhile, the everyday routine of school and homework may seem so boring that you stop putting effort into what matters.

At this stage in our lives, the body needs to be rested and nourished, not overburdened. An extreme-sports injury would just add to the long list of challenges teens face, such as grades and social pressures. And surely, we don’t need more stress!

Additional vocabulary: primal

Should Teens Do Extreme Sports?

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