Will Sitting Be the Next Great Extreme Sport?

One man hopes it is

It's a new era for sitting down.
Samuel Regan-Asante/Unsplash

What do you think of when you imagine an extreme sport? It’s a phrase that’s often used but rarely quantified. Is an extreme sport extreme because of the element of risk involved? Is it more about the ethos with which participants approach things? Or is there some other ineffable quality that eludes easy categorization?

And — relevant to the purposes of this article — is it possible for sitting to become an extreme sport?

If you were to ask Robert Silk that question, he’d likely reply in the affirmative. A new article in Atlas Obscura chronicles his efforts to take sitting where it’s never been before. That’s meant in the literal sense as well — he’s taken his unique approach to an everyday practice to desert and polar environments alike.

What does extreme sitting consist of? As Laura Kiniry writes at Atlas Obscura, it involves “sitting in extreme environments, from sun-up to sundown without any sort of time pieces or electronic devices.” We’re venturing into Marina Abramović territory here, but alone and in the middle of a desert.

The process can be more physically taxing than you’d expect — yes, Silk stretches before he begins sitting. And there’s an allusion to icicles forming on his chair when he sat in Antarctica. So far, he’s been the only one to engage in this sport, but he told Atlas Obscura of plans to compete against another extreme sitter in the Chilean desert. Getting in tune with the environment around you and becoming lost in your thoughts — it’s not hard to see the appeal.

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