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Cowabunga, Baby: Sports Are Getting Extreme.


He agrees that extreme sports can be quite safe, says Raglin. "There's certainly a lot of safety equipment associated with it. And if you look at the pros, they're fully dressed out. And these are sports that require physical conditioning and training, so they will be safer. If kids are going to do it and parents want to support them, they need to treat it like any other sporting activity. They need to get into shape and condition for it."

He's seen one destructive aspect: kids on in-line skates are tearing up city parks. "Kids are using steps, handrails to do grinders and all these tricks. They put steel devices on skates; it's utterly destructive," Raglin tells WebMD. However, he's also seen skate parks spring up in large and small cities as a result. "Sometimes parents help kids organize efforts to set up these sorts of parks because these activities have been outlawed."

"I'm not here to justify how safe extreme sports are," says Gayton. "But last week I watched motorcyclists going over a pole vault bar. One can say it's weird or crazy, or one could say it's a unique thing to do. I wouldn't do it because I value my life. At 16 and 24 I did some crazy things, too. All I'm saying is, we need to keep in touch and remember where we were coming from at that age."

From her bird's-eye view at the top of this industry, Ulmer says not all is perfect, but there is still a lot to offer. She says "extreme sports is a superficial world ... [but] these are people who have a lot of something ... a lot of energy, a desperate need for identity. If you are that type of person, it's better to put your life into something like sports than to waste it. It teaches people what it feels like to follow your passion."

Ulmer adds a word of caution. Extreme sports -- especially at her level -- are "pretty dangerous ... life-risking," she tells WebMD. "Certainly anything you see in the X-Games is life-risking. There are infinitely more injuries than people think."

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