Just like you, we’re painfully aware that the rest of the world thinks action sports people are, let’s be blunt here, stupid. In fact, because of the Hollywood putting characters like Jeff Spicoli and Bill & Ted on the big screen, most people think we probably even belong in the bin knowingly misspelt ‘stooopid’.
But wait! Scientists have got their heads down and, in between separating atoms and finding a cure for inline skating, have proven once and for all that we’re all actually really, really smart. In fact, we’re basically super human!
The men and women in white coats over at Dunlop Tyres got a bunch of action sports pros, including wing suit flyer Alexander Polli, rock climber and adventurer Leo Houlding, Team GB gold medallist and skeleton supremo Amy Williams, Isle of Man TT racer John McGuiness, and world endurance champion Sam Bird, and wired their brains up to see how they function under a series of high-pressure situations.
They also tested a bunch on non athletes in the same way to see if people in action sports have some sort of special cognitive power that lets them perform better than people who get their kicks by doing the cross word or knitting a replica of the Eifel Tower.
There were four tests in total, asking the group to sort objects into order, adjust bets according to changing odds, reacting to directions on as screen, and eliminating risk.
Granted, it all sounds a little like something you’d get up to in a Science museum mixed with thel udovico treatment from Clockwork Orange, but things got properly interesting when the tests were repeated when all participants were put under physical stress.
Interestingly, the regular Joes out performed the elite athletes during the regular tests. However, the action sport stars absolutely thrashed the regulation human beings when under pressure. In fact, during some challenges, scientists found that the stress actually helped the pros perform.
The elite athletes performed a whopping 82 per cent better when under pressure compared to the other participants. Their reaction speed was also 20 per cent faster.
Put simply, the people who participated in action sports were able to not just make decisions faster than those who didn’t, but also made more correct decisions at speed.
So, what does all this mean? Well, it suggests that those of us who fill our life hooning towards icy kickers, bombing hills on boards, and charging around trails with trees and rocks doing their best to make life difficult attune our brain to work better under stress.
We’re effectively giving the bit of our brain called the Parietal Cortex a Spartan-level work out every time we send it.
In short, action sports makes us, if not super human, at least really, really quite good humans.
Of course, some party pooper will no doubt look at this information and suggest that the participants in the test were arguably already genetically predisposed to excel in these areas, and maybe this DNA is why they’re done so well in their chosen field, as opposed the their chosen field altering them. But to these people we say… err, party on, dude!