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Read the article about risky people and risk sports.


Why do we risk it?


Ordinary people all over the world are willing to risk their lives for the ultimate experience – an ‘adrenaline buzz’. What basic human need is driving them to do it?


(1) Risk sports are one of the fastest-growing leisure activities. Daredevils try anything from organised bungee jumps to illegally jumping off buildings. These people never feel so alive as when they are risking their lives. In their quest for the ultimate sensation, thrill-seekers are thinking up more and more elaborate sports. ‘Zip wiring’, for example, involves sliding down a rope from the top of a cliff suspended by a pulley attached to your ankle.


(2) So why do some people’s lives seem to be dominated by the ‘thrill factor’, while others are perfectly happy to sit at home by the fire? Some say that people who do risk sports are reacting against a society which they feel has become dull and constricting. David Lewis, a psychologist, believes that people today crave adventure. In an attempt to guarantee safety, our culture has eliminated risk. ‘The world has become a bland and safe place,’ says Lewis. ‘People used to be able to seek adventure by hunting wild animals, or taking part in expeditions. Now they turn to risk sports as an escape.’


(3) Risk sports have a positive side as well. They help people to overcome fears that affect them in their real lives. This makes risk sports particularly valuable for executives in office jobs who need to stay alert so that they can cope when things go wrong. They learn that being frightened doesn’t mean they can’t be in control.


(4) Of all the risk and adrenaline sports, bungee jumping is proving the most popular. Worldwide, one-and-a-half million people have tried it. You hurtle towards the ground from 200 metres up and, at the last moment, when you are about to hit the water or land and death seems certain, a rubber band yanks you back to life. You can decide whether to jump from a crane, a bridge or a balloon. Attached to a length of elastic rope, jumpers experience a free fall of nearly 160 km/h, before they are slowed by a quickly increasing pull on their ankles.


(5) After five or six bounces jumpers are lowered on to a mattress and set free. Almost inarticulate, they walk around with idiotic grins on their faces. Their hands can’t stop shaking, they can only use superlatives and say repeatedly how amazing it was. ‘As you’re falling, all you see are things flying around as you turn,’ says one breathless bungee jumper. ‘You don’t think you’re ever going to stop and when you rebound, it’s like weightlessness. You feel as if you’re floating on air. My legs are like jelly, but I feel so alive!’


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