Berkshire Encyclopedia of Extreme Sports

Editors: Douglas Booth, University of Otago, Holly Thorpe, University of Waikato (2007)

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.


“[T]his current work is unique in its comprehensive and focused view. Academic libraries supporting sports science and physical education programs will want to consider it as part of a well rounded reference collection. Given the popular interest in the topic, they may also want to add it to their circulating collections. Larger public libraries may also be interested for similar reasons”
(Against the Grain: June 2007)

“Extreme sports are about taking risks, challenging oneself to physical and mental limits, and breaking the rules of nature and sometimes society. The Berkshire Encyclopedia of Extreme Sports grew from the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport (2005) and contains 114 articles covering 50 sports, more than 30 athletes, 9 places, and 17 social issues, including Extreme media, which discusses the magazines Big Brother (for skateboarders) and Blunt (for snowboarders) as well as the Jackass phenomenon. The signed, alphabetically arranged articles are organized, factual, and contain many interesting photos. Sidebars provide supplemental information such as “Cave Diving Safety Warnings,” much of it gathered from the Web. Cross-references and items for further reading are also included.”… Nearly 70 sports experts and athletes wrote content for this encyclopedia, which has a detailed (but not always thorough) index, an alphabetical list of entries, and a “Reader’s Guide” grouping entries under broader topics. The fonts, page formats, and mirrored page numbers make the layout hip and unique in comparison with other print sources. This title is so extreme, it even has a disclaimer! It is recommended for all types of libraries, particularly those interested in gaining the attention of 13- to 34-year-old males.”
Sue Polanka (Booklist: September 15, 2007)

“Over the last decade, extreme has become a popular adjective to describe a range of physical pursuits and activities, including air sports (e.g., bungee jumping), climbing sports (e.g., bouldering), combative sports (e.g., professional wrestling), ice and snow sports (e.g., sled racing), terrestrial sports (e.g., triathlons), water sports (e.g., windsurfing), and wheeled sports (e.g., skateboarding). Extreme sports have attracted major cultural, commercial, and media attention, and their importance and audience continue to grow. Editors Booth and Thorpe (sport & leisure studies, Sch. of Education, Univ. of Waikato, New Zealand) present a comprehensible overview of the new and emerging phenomenon of extreme sports from a worldwide perspective. Nearly 70 contributors provide articles, essays, biographies, and sidebars on approximately 50 sports (articles average five to six pages in length). They discuss the history, characteristics, philosophy, ideology, trends, cultural aspects, and future prospects of each sport; profile its participants; and offer suggestions for further reading. Bottom Line This is an attractively designed and distinctive resource compiled by insiders in the field who engagingly recount their athletic exploits. As such, it will appeal to both extreme sports participants and enthusiasts. A welcome addition that should be acquired by any library with large sports collections”.
Kathleen A. Welton, Chicago (Library Journal: August 2007)

“Collaboratively compiled and deftly co-edited by Douglas Booth and Holly Thorpe (both of whom are faculty members with the Department of Sports and Leisure Studies at the University of Waikato, New Zealand), the “Berkshire Encyclopedia Of Extreme Sports” is impressively organized and includes 42 articles on contemporary extreme sports by knowledgeable contributors including scholars and athletes. There are also 19 essays dealing with the social, political, and media context of extreme sports, 35 biographies of leading extreme sports athletes, as well as 73 sidebars (many written by athletes recounting their own exploits). The “Berkshire Encyclopedia Of Extreme Sports” is enhanced with the inclusion of a comprehensive index, extensive cross-references, and a topical reader’s guide. In addition to being an essential acquisition for both school and community library Sports & Athletics reference collections, the “Berkshire Encyclopedia Of Extreme Sports” is especially recommended for students and non-specialist readers of any age who have an interest in any or all of those sports and athletic activities which have come to be called ‘extreme’”
Midwest Book Review: August 2007)


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