We’ve only five senses. Unless you can draw on a sixth, it seems foolish to interfere with them during sports or adventure activities. So we asked the questions: do headphones affect extreme sports? And can you listen and perform?
Checking out the earliest surf movies, it’s clear music has always been part of the sport’s wider culture. Fast forward to the MTV era and it wasn’t long before Beastie Boys tracks were backing up the tricks of BMX legends Dave Mirra and Matt Hoffman.
Nowadays it’s X-Games and a generation who never even watched MTV. Streaming music services, running off mobile apps. People don’t even buy CD’s. Music is via playlists with the big players like Spotify allowing you to take your tunes offline.
Do headphones affect extreme sports?
So going for a blast on a mountain bike, or getting clipped in before another run, you know loads off people have got their music on. But take care: There’s no doubt that the more you push your sport, the more focus you need to keep things safe.
And that’s what your senses are designed for: to keep a grip on reality by establishing what’s around you. Can you listen and perform? Probably. But be aware that the moment something unexpected happens, you may be slower to respond to it.
Cycling on a busy road with your music on shuffle is not a wise move. You need to be hearing traffic, not tunes.
Likewise when in the mountains skiing or snowboarding, with your favourite tunes blaring you won’t be hear someone approaching from behind. And, when it comes to the chairlift, is it better to be in your own world or maybe take the time to talk to people? Imagine that. Not on your phone. Talking to people.
Fans of tunes while doing extreme sports say it helps them get in the zone, and I can certainly understand this for extreme sport athletes that are training under controlled conditions and need to focus. But up in the mountains it means you won’t hear nature – and other people approaching or warnings as well as someone does who’s not got headphones on.
Can you listen and perform?
Tuned-out cyclists hit by 4x4s. Joggers unbelievably running in front of trains. Snowboarders not hearing shouted warnings of a cliff ahead. I’m sure you’ve read the stories. Do headphones affect extreme sports? Yes they most certainly do!
Considering how long people have been wearing them, it’s surprising there’s not been a ruling on wearing headphones in specific sports. While there are no doubt groups that campaign for volume controls and noise limiters, I’d not like to have this imposed on me. What a world to live in where people told you where and when to listen to music.
Maybe there’s a compromise here: If there’s nothing going on, crank it up; if it’s getting busier keep the volume low enough that you can hear what’s happening around you; and switch it off when it’s manic – e.g cycling on busy streets, riding packed pistes. And ultimately, take care with headphones on – unless you’ve mastered that sixth sense…