Posted by Simon
While traveling on the lifts and trains in Switzerland we met some young men who were base jumpers. It is a sport in which you jump off a cliff and free fall for a few seconds then release a parachute. For those of you not familiar with this seemingly irrational behavior there is more on Wikipedia. The few base jumpers we met were handsome, virile young men from middle class backgrounds. The question raised in our minds was: “Why do they do it? They have about a one in fifty chance of dying!”
Base jumping is regulated behavior in Switzerland
The only answer I could think of was that they are base jumping for the same reason that other young men join gangs, deal drugs or drive cars too fast. They have a genetic urge to be virile, to tempt fate. They want risk. It seems to me that a successful society should allow young people space for this risky behavior. The ideal space will be one in which they risk their lives without putting anyone else in danger. So, by my criteria base jumping is a good sport. Drug dealing is not so good because it risks the lives of others. Street racing is bad but NHRA racing is a good.
A perfect base jumping cliff