New book explores benefits of extreme sports
The book, Phenomenology and the extreme sport experience, has been written by Dr Eric Brymer, a Reader in the Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett, and Professor Robert Schweitzer, from the Faculty of Health at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, and published by Routledge.
In the book, Dr Brymer explores the motivations behind those who take part in extreme sports and challenges the stereotype that the incentive behind extreme sports participation is entirely to do with risking one’s life.
The book instead focuses on the life-changing nature of extreme sports participation including finding meaning and freedom in the natural world and a more nuanced way of interpreting people’s experiences that move beyond the notion of risks, death defiance and the ‘no fear’ concept.
Eric explained: “Researchers have had a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of participating in extreme sports. In this book, through emerging data from extreme sports participants and throughout my research, I want to tell a much more positive story about the transformational nature of extreme sports and the way they help shape how people experience the natural world. I am convinced that extreme sports have the ability to transform lives in a positive way in our understanding of the natural world as well as the health and wellbeing of participants.
“The book starts by exploring a traditional understanding of what extreme sports are all about, before trying to interpret it in a different way. We present new ideas based on individual participant experiences, looking at them in terms of how we might better understand extreme sports and associated positive benefits.
“We show that extreme sports are transformational in that they do change the way people see themselves, the way people interact with others and with the natural world. Participants talk of a sense of freedom that’s beyond the social-cultural understanding of freedom and much more about being completely free of all negative thoughts and perceptions. BASE jumpers talk about travelling at 200 miles per hour and being able to see every nook and cranny and all the shades of colours in the cliff as they go flying by. Participants also describe being at one with the natural world as well as experiencing what human beings are fully capable of doing.”
Eric is a psychologist specialising in outdoor and adventure sports with a particular focus on the health benefits of being in nature and the psychology of extreme sports. He is a Reader in outdoor and adventure studies at Leeds Beckett University and currently holds an Adjunct position at Queensland University of Technology, Australia. Eric is recognised as a leader in the field of extreme sports research and leads a team of researchers in the Carnegie School of Sport, who are exploring themes around extreme sports and the outdoors.
Eric’s research focuses on the two major interrelated issues confronting societies today: concern for the health and wellbeing of populations and the state of the natural environment. He specialises in researching the reciprocal wellbeing benefits of the human-nature relationship. Projects include investigating the psychological health benefits of nature-based experiences, understanding how the relationship between human beings and nature benefits wellbeing and learning for pro-conservation and pro-sustainability behaviours.