The Berkshire Encyclopedia of Extreme Sports offers a comprehensive dissection of this new and emerging phenomenon, and its characteristics, philosophy, ideology, functions, history and future. The Encyclopedia contextualizes extreme sports, especially their key component - risk - from a number of disciplinary perspectives including history, sociology, psychology, theology and physiology. In examining the history of individual extreme sports, the Encyclopedia explores ancient, feudal and cross-cultural forms while also looking at the appeal of modern extreme activities to entrepreneurs, marketers, advertisers and the media as they seek to connect with consumers in the critical 13-34-age cohort.
The commercialization of extreme sports as well as their institutionalization - formation of governing bodies, grand prix circuits, and inclusion in traditional mega-events such as the Olympic Games - highlights another critical dimension addressed by the Encyclopedia, their contradictory and paradoxical nature. As numerous commentators have observed, participants in extreme sports are typically no less racist, sexist and class and status conscious than their brothers and sisters participating in mainstream sports.
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