He was right, if you look at it one way. Outdoor sports are inherently ridiculous in that they’re contrivances—among the luxuries modern life has afforded us is the choice to safely and efficiently climb mountains and rock faces, explore underwater, run far distances, move over the waves. We make sport of these activities, having reduced risk drastically with the use of gear and tech, passed on generations’ worth of lessons on method and technique, and generally made the outdoors more democratic. Outdoor sports are sports because they’ve moved on from the drudgery of the necessary—now they’re just fun to do.
All sports are hard, and all sports push us to dig deep inside—it’s what makes sports so noble and so uniquely human. But we would posit that the outdoors, in reminding us of our place in the physical world, strips us down to the essentials in a way that few other things are able to. Being outdoors has the ability to fill us with humility and joy and existential awe.
Our Outdoors issue celebrates the growing communities that push outdoor sports in this country. These are the stories of the people who have opened the door for the rest of us, showing us the possibilities of the great, humbling, joyful world out there.