There was a time, years ago in my youth, that I thought I might be a good pole vaulter. I was a sprinter in high school, I was lean, and I have decent body control.
However, there’s a problem: To be a pole vaulter, you must allow yourself to spring 20+ feet in the air balanced on nothing more than a thin pole, and then come crashing down.
The thought of that terrifies me. Especially the first vault. How in the world do you do the first vault?! It can’t possibly go well.
I had a similar thought today while watching a movie called Eddie the Eagle. It’s about a ski jumper. Yeah, ski jumping. A sport as terrifying and dangerous as it is thrilling. You actually get to fly for about 5 seconds–it’s nothing but you, your skis, and the open slope.
Eddie starts with a 15m ramp, which in itself looks quite scary. I skied and snowboarded a bit back in the day, and I generally avoided going airborne. I’m sure it’s exciting to jump a little bit, but I just didn’t have the balance to land well.
Eddie then moves up to the 40m ramp, then the 70m. And probably the 90m? I don’t know. I haven’t finished the movie yet.
But of all the sports, I can’t think of one that’s scarier. I mean, just like pole vaulting, you’re choosing to fall. Falling is part of the sport. And sometimes you’re going to fall hard. Especially the first few times. It’s just a given, right?
Are there any sports that have such a scary barrier to entry that you don’t think you could ever get past it?