Department

Department of Anthropology

First Advisor

Susan Dewey

Description

Motocross is a racing sport performed on a dirtbike. The interesting aspects from a cultural standpoint are the high level of risk involved, and the position of women within the sport. There have been people that have died participating in this sport, and yet ask a rider and they will say they would not give up the sport unless they physically could not ride any longer. This commitment and motivation to be a participant in a high-risk situation is the main focus of this paper. The secondary focus is on women’s position within a high-risk, male dominated sport. I used a combination of participant observation, questionnaires, and interaction on social media to gather data and observations. By researching previous work on high-risk sports and activities, I was able to find that the characteristics and interactions I observed were the same or very similar to what other researchers had discovered. A certain aspect of riding is the thrill seeking adrenalin rush, but a larger aspect is actually due to the personality of the person and what the activity brings as a reward for taking the risk. Women within this high-risk, male dominant sport also show these traits, but the way they are treated within the sport is not equal to male riders. The impact of this paper is to add support to the assessment of participation in high-risk activities, to open up the more secluded culture of motocross to the researching world, and to highlight women’s roles in a high-risk, male dominated sport.

Comments

Oral Presentation, University of Wyoming Honors Program

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A Tale of Dirt and Dedication: An Ethnography of Motocross Culture

Motocross is a racing sport performed on a dirtbike. The interesting aspects from a cultural standpoint are the high level of risk involved, and the position of women within the sport. There have been people that have died participating in this sport, and yet ask a rider and they will say they would not give up the sport unless they physically could not ride any longer. This commitment and motivation to be a participant in a high-risk situation is the main focus of this paper. The secondary focus is on women’s position within a high-risk, male dominated sport. I used a combination of participant observation, questionnaires, and interaction on social media to gather data and observations. By researching previous work on high-risk sports and activities, I was able to find that the characteristics and interactions I observed were the same or very similar to what other researchers had discovered. A certain aspect of riding is the thrill seeking adrenalin rush, but a larger aspect is actually due to the personality of the person and what the activity brings as a reward for taking the risk. Women within this high-risk, male dominant sport also show these traits, but the way they are treated within the sport is not equal to male riders. The impact of this paper is to add support to the assessment of participation in high-risk activities, to open up the more secluded culture of motocross to the researching world, and to highlight women’s roles in a high-risk, male dominated sport.