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Getting Involved In "Extreme Sports": Advice From Parents Of Top Extreme Athletes

A Family Affair

Extreme athletes may present a rebellious persona to the public, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect their true character or their relationships with their families. In fact, it is not uncommon to see these young athletes hanging out with their families and even giving mom a hug during a practice session. There is a real sense of family teamwork at these competitions, with the parents offering support and encouragement, but showing no signs of putting pressure of their kids. At a time in their lives when kids often feel their parents can’t relate to them, many of these young athletes are very close with the parents who have done so much to help them reach their goals.

In the case of the Pastranas, both mom and dad are at the X Games with Travis and it is truly a family affair. Debby Pastrana is justifiably proud of her son. Not only because he repeated as gold-medallist and, at age 16, is the youngest competitor in Moto X, but because of the kind of person he is growing up to be: one with the drive and discipline needed to compete in one of the most adrenaline-driven sports, who can still show respect towards his family (often giving her a hug after completing a good run).

Fulfilling A Dream

In the world of aggressive in-line skating, the athletes are some of the youngest around, and, it seems, getting younger every day. Deborah West is a 14-year-old professional in-line skater competing in her first X Games. Unlike other athletes who reach the elite level at an early age, such as gymnasts, who often travel with a team and coaches who are often like second parents, cutting edge athletes like West are pretty much on their own. That is one reason why family support plays such a vital role in their success.

Corinne West, Deborah’s mom, has committed to doing everything she can to help Deborah fulfill her potential in skating, but it hasn’t always been easy. Corinne remembers how her daughter kept asking her if she could try in-line skating at a local skatepark . She finally consented, and a month later Deborah entered her first contest and won! Since then it has been an adventure for them both. "I didn’t like it at first," said Corinne of her daughter’s participation in a sport where injuries are a fact of life. Her advice to other moms who may feel that way: "If it’s your child’s dream, go for it, but be ready to give a lot of support and a lot of hours sitting on a bench. It [requires] dedication." West, along with other parents, spends much of the professional in-line season, from April to October, on the road with her daughter and apart from the rest of their family. It’s a sacrifice she is willing to make.

The Appeal Of Action Sports

For many kids, action sports mean less pressure to win and more fun with their friends. While each child is different and their reasons for choosing a sport are just as varied, we definitely found from talking to parents at the X Games a common theme: kids participated because they wanted to have fun with their friends and be able to express themselves.

The top reasons parents and kids give for why action sports are so appealing:

  • They are fun

  • They are always challenging and there is always something new to learn

  • They get to hang out with their friends while participating

  • They offer kids a way to express themselves and show their individuality and personality

  • They allow kids independence yet with a sense of community

  • Kids are competing mostly with themselves

  • There is less pressure to win, and no coaches or parents yelling at them

Face it, they’re cool sports and every kid wants to be cool!

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