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  • Writer's pictureMako

Is scuba diving an extreme sport?

Updated: Jun 12, 2022

Some other day I was surprised by a question as to why I am such a willing participant in such an extreme sport as scuba diving. Firstly, I never thought of scuba diving as a sport, and secondly “extreme” is not a word I naturally associate with scuba diving.

Whether scuba diving is a sport or a recreational activity, or a hobby can be debated. Do I care? Not at all. The answer depends on who you ask and how much you care about semantics. As far as I am concerned, like so many things in life, scuba diving can be precisely what you make of it.

There is a second aspect of the question which is more thought provoking. Does “extreme” make diving seem more cool? Is it a media ploy to market any sport as exciting by labelling it “extreme.”

The best description of extreme sport is rightly or wrongly attributed to Ernest Hemingway who back in the fifties famously said

“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

Of course, that was before Jacques Cousteau.

So, is today’s scuba diving an extreme sport, an extreme recreational activity or extreme hobby? Or is the label “extreme” is totally exaggerated and attached only to increase our insurance premiums? Now that I do care about.

Sometimes scuba diving is compared to other “extreme sports” such as kite surfing, mountain climbing, downhill skiing or skateboarding. I believe that such comparison is misleading as none of these sports actually requires a licence or any kind of a formal check. Certification, essentially a license, means going through supervised training. With this one would assume that the label “extreme” would naturally fall away. Otherwise driving a car, flying an aeroplane, or operating heavy machinery, and other similar activities requiring licensing could be also described as extreme. A bit of a stretch maybe, but think about it.

Of course, it is your call as to whether you treat scuba diving as a relaxing hobby or make it as extreme as possible. It can be either or both, just not at the same time, please.

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