I know my personal gut reaction to this question is, "Well yeah!". But looking at it closer, it's actually very difficult to even define what extreme sports are. For this reason I'm only going to list a handful of extreme sports done on land. Air and water sports will have to wait. Regardless of where they take place, they all seem to vary in different levels of danger. Is this the only factor that makes them manly? To make it easier to discuss, let me break down the question "Are Extreme Sports Manly?" into the following four questions:
1.) Which extreme sports are manly?
2.) What makes them manly?
3.) Which ones are not manly?
4.) Why are they not manly?
Here's a very small list of the more common land ones (feel free to add your own):
Rally car racing
Well, at least you've endeavored to define your terms.
Unfortunately, the practioners of some of your sports seem to put a premium on either extreme stupidity or extreme ignorance of their abilites.
Skateboarders and Snowboarders seem to lead the pack in that regard.
Any sport can be manly, with all the overcoming challenge and such, but the culture surrounding extreme sports makes me want to put my face through a wall. I love snowboarding. I hate snowboarders.
They can be -- but their practitioners often aren't. The problem isn't the sport, its the man behind the mask. Talent is talent, stupid is stupid ... and a douche on a skateboard is still a douche. But, as always, there are exceptions.
I agree with the above. It's how you do it, not what you do. I'm an avid skier, and i do pick up speed. However, i don't like being out of control, so i don't drink when i ski (like most people), and i don't do things i can't control. I just push myself incrementally.
A lot of people seem to really enjoy the rush of being completely (or partly) out of control in a dangerous situation. I don't think that is very manly. I like going fast on ski's. I like doing things that are difficult. I don't like it because there is a good chance i'll be injured when i mess up. I have broken bones due to faulty gear (i was 8 years old, so hardly my fault), and since then i make sure everything is up to scratch.
Extreme sports shouldn't be extreme because they are dangerous. The should be extreme because they're extremely hard, or exploring the boundaries of human ability (like EVERY sport). That's manly.
I think Rally racing would be a great example of skill and technical difficulty over danger. Sure there are crazy wrecks, but the driver is so restrained that they rarely get injured. It also involves a lot of trust. There is a driver and co-driver. The driver is depending on accurate and responsive pace notes, the co-driver is hoping for a safe and speedy race.
As for skill level you can use Ken Block as an example. His gymkhana videos are entertaining and show driving skill, but they are heavily edited. His performances in the WRC have all been fairly mediocre when compared to the current God of the circuit, Loeb.
I think the more popular extreme sport videos, shows, games, etc... just buy too much into the hype that bigger and better is faster.
Here is a great video of skateboarder Rodney Mullen doing insanely technical things without the use of giant ramps or extravagant setups.
Here is one of trials biker Danny Macaskill using terrain and innovation to do some very impressive tricks.
The trust, skill and teamwork involved in rally racing is EXTREMELY manly!
Guess my on/off signifigant other that I codrive for is really manly even though she's got good D cups.
For many of these 'extreme sports' NOTHING about them has changed from the inital 'un-extreme' version. They (promoters etc.) have simply added 'extreme' or 'X' or whatever in front of the sport.
Not necessarily a bad thing. Example.. Skateboarding. Before x-games picked it up it wasn't less 'extreme' but it was certainly less well known. Just added to the exposure.
There's douche bags in EVERY aspect of life. Just because the local teenagers who skateboard in your town/neighbourhood are disrespectful young punks doesn't mean the people who do it for a living are.
Look at other sports say... Football, how many pro NFL players have been convicted of crimes etc. Nothing too manly about say... organizing dog fights is there?
Sports/activities on their own aren't manly. It's the individual perusing a paticular hobby/activity and their character and behaviour both on and off the field/court/half pipe/whatever that give it a push into manly and gentlemanly territory.
It seems like the consensus so far is that it's not what you do but rather how you do it, or the attitude you have while doing a particular "Extreme sport". I really like what Loki said about an individual's character in pursuing a sport/hobby. But I think we can all agree that certain sports or hobbies are more manly than others. That's more what I was getting at, "What makes a sport manly exactly?"
I think we can all agree that baseball is considered pretty manly. But why is baseball more manly than say something like skateboarding? A douche playing baseball is just as much a douche as a moron on a skateboard. Is the annoying baseball player more manly than the irritating skateboarder? You can have great skill and have a great attitude doing things that aren't considered very manly (speed walking, ribbon dancing), but what I would really like to unpack is the why (in the realm of sports). Where do you think the perception of one sport being manlier than another comes from?
Interesting. There has been a discussion like that before, and the general idea is that it is REALLY hard to define. For every criterion you can define, you will find an exception. I think it's even harder than defining which sports should be in the Olympics.
For instance, i think real teamwork is extremely manly, so than i think a manly sport should be a team sport. No such luck, as i think that any sport that is about 'harder, faster, higher, longer' (running, swimming, rowing and such) is extremely manly. No teamwork though, so they become immediately incomparable.
After that there is the question of the sport itself, or the culture in it. For instance, football (our football) is in essence a very manly teamsport. But, as more and more money got into it, faking injuries and insolent nagging to get free kicks got more and more important. Even to the point that players started taking acting lessons. This i think is extremely unmanly, actually i think it is really disgusting. Therefore i hate football.
Football = manly. The way it's played now = disgusting.
It is all very hard to define.
I'd say it goes with what Dutch Dastard said about teamwork. With baseball, hockey, etc. You're a team. With very very few exceptions no matter how good an individual is he/she must still be a TEAM player. With something like skateboarding/snowboarding etc. It's all about the individual.
Also I think it's just how long something has been around. I mean baseball has been around for what? 100+ years easily where as skateboarding has only ever really hit mainstream society in the 90's really. Unless you happened to live in California or somewhere it blew up big in the 70's/80's.
So I think it's almost tradition if that make's sense. I mean baseball is the "american pass time" just like hockey is Canada's. Part of that reason being that they both have been around for so long, we grew up with them, our parents grew up with them, grandparents grew up with them etc.
They can also be a lot of fun. However I don't think any sport is manly I think it is a sport.