Since mindless actions of the South African society persist in the form of environmentally degrading behaviour, the sustainability of healthy eco-systems is constantly threatened. Practical ways of acquiring environmental literacy is necessary to develop environmental responsible behaviour of citizens. Theory-based research on nature-based extreme sports participation rarely acknowledges its positive transformative value on society. This neglect roots, in part, from naïve or novice misconceptions that motives for participation are primarily risk-focused in pursuit of an adrenaline rush. Thrill-seeking theories often make anthropocentric assumptions of a rivalry human-nature relationship to showcase individual prowess. As a result, “extreme” is naïvely associated with “out-of-control” or “reckless” actions. Phenomenological traditions from Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty navigate a hermeneutical understanding of a bodily-being-towards-death in such high-risk sports activities. This interpretative phenomenological analytical study considers the lived experiences of 10 expert South African nature-based extreme sports participants who take calculate risks. Their first-hand narrations provide evidence, which derails the naïve stigma and identify voluntary high risk-taking as a by-product of participation. For some, the extensive period of time spent in the wilderness, where their survival depends on the collaboration with natural elements enable a realization that humanity is part of a larger functioning network. Findings from semi-structured interviews present an eco-centric outlook on the facilitative role of participation, in eco-sensitivity. Flow and mindfulness are recognised as contributing factors in the display of pro-environmental behaviour of nature-based extreme sports participants. How participation encourages an intimate bond with and sensitivity of nature, which permits a setting for extraordinary physical and psychological changes, is explored. From this study, eco-centric management principles can be discovered and its educational principles incorporated within schools and sport organizations to become more ecologically sensitive and just.
Dissertstion (MA (Human Movement Science))--University of Pretoria, 2019.