Reader Poll: Which Sport Has the Smuggest Participants?

I have been vibed by skiers, snowboarders, skateboarders, roadies, mountain bikers, and surfers, despite myself being a skier, snowboarder, skateboarder, roadie, mountain biker, and surfer. If I haven’t been vibed by climbers or paddlers, it’s likely only because I’m not around others climbers or paddlers when I climb or paddle.

The fact is, although most of our brothers and sisters in the church of the outdoors are welcoming, compassionate, and open, every sport has its share of snottily superior a-holes. We’re not talking about douchebags whose DNA makes them annoying 24/7 or enthusiasts who passionately argue whether snow turns to powder at 4, 5, or 6 percent water content, but the haughtily patronizing snobs who look down their noses at other sports and even their fellows in adventure.

Every discipline has them, every discipline. The question is, which one takes the smug cake?


Tell us what you think and get a chance to win one of the world’s best adventure photos! Each week, Adventure Journal will give away one photographic print from the AJ print store to a reader poll respondent. If you win, you get to select any photo in the print store in a size up to 12×18 inches.

Here are the rules:

1. You must “like” the Adventure Journal Facebook page.
2. You must be a subscriber to the free Adventure Journal email newsletter. (Sign up here.)
3. You must vote in the poll and leave a comment telling us which picture you want.

Readers will be picked randomly, one each week.

[Last week’s poll: Does “Made in America” matter?]

{ 45 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Peter

    Surfing. Everyone thinks surfing is cool, and wants to try when they go the beach. The highest groms/hard core ratio out there.

  • Matt Freeman

    Roadies No doubt about it — the amount of narcissistic, testosterone-driven arrogance put out by 140 pound skinny dudes in Lycra is truly shocking. And I say this as a roadie, and someone in the cycling industry.

  • Otis

    hard to split the difference b/w roadies and surfers, but i voted roadie, despite that being my go-to sport of choice for years.

    Jordan Manley, BC biking

  • Craig Rowe

    Even though I am a surfer, and consider it my favorite outdoor pursuit, many surfers believe they were born knowing how to do it. There isn’t much, or any, tolerance for those who want to learn. Originally from upstate NY and having learned to surf at a later age, I experience a lot of that.

    I believe fully that early surfers need to understand the ethics of the line-up, primarily for safety reasons. However, there is nothing wrong with more people surfing. Share the line-up, respect others and spread the stoke.

  • valweitz

    tho all the sports mentioned have more than their share of snobbish elietist douche bags. roadies are the snobbiest. its all about looking like you are on le tour and no one ever seems to be having a good time.

  • Jess

    Not more votes for climbers? Maybe I haven’t been hanging out with the right ones. Jordan Manley’s Blackcomb, British Columbia.

  • Chris Blanchard

    Got to add one more vote for (against?) the roadies. As a novice surfer, you know it’s going to be dog eat dog when the surf’s up. As a novice cyclist, nothing can prepare you for the onslaught of obscenities a pack of weekend warriors can hurl in a 3 second window when you don’t get out of their way on a downhill.

    Steve, I got my print today from the first reader contest…it arrived in perfect shape and is even more breathtaking in the flesh. Thanks! I think my own nature shots around the office are a bit jealous though.

    If lightning strikes twice, I’ll go for Jordan Manley’s mtb track in BC.

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  • Tonto

    I’m sure you left horsey people off because all the votes would’ve crashed the system. They take the cake, with hikers just behind ’cause they can’t share trail, either.

  • licia passin

    You forgot Adventure Racers, but Road Bikers & Triathletes still win hands down! I love the Boujbeja, Mali photo by Kevin Arnold, it has a wonder factor!

  • Craig Rowe

    I feel it is my responsibility to add that as the last print contest winner, these prints are freaking sweet. Exceptional quality. The online versions do them no justice. Enter like mad.

  • Josh

    Surfers are world-class jerks, no doubt about it. But as far as smugness, no one beats roadies. Surfers = I’ve been afraid of being physically beat-down in the lineup. Roades = just exude smugness. Fortunately they’re not very scary.

  • @johnzambenini

    If being a smug roadie is wrong, I don’t want to be right. In all seriousness I think ‘cross is more smug than us – all those ironic outfits, finely waxed mustaches, carefully curated coolers of rare imported beer and all that to stand around with your buddies in a city park for 45 minutes of racing and talking about moving to Portland. Or Belgium (which isn’t supposedly that great of a country). And then you drive away in a Subaru.

    Roadies may have a zest for Campy, the perfect espresso, “epic” rides and beautiful Euro landscapes – I prefer to think of this as “joie d’vivre.”

  • Wirun Sae-Lao

    It’s got to be the roadies. That’s why I love to beat them on their expensive road bikes with my 1989 Schwinn Tempo.
    Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

  • Simon

    I voted skiing. With the caveate that I haven’t really encountered it in XC, Backcountry, or Skate (though the latter two I’ve only dabbled in). I ride with some roadies and there are d-bags for sure. I think it attracts a higher proportion of ex-jocks: outdoor enthusiests than some other sports, since in many cases it’s a little less outdoor/ natural world focuesed than other sports I participate in.

    But skiing (and somewhat snowboarding, though more so 10 years ago), man, the excrutiating number of spolied, park-gangsta kids just takes the cake. There is NOTHING more annoying than the cooption and bastardization of urban black culture by a bunch of wealthy white kids at resorts. It is truly mind-boggling. Add to that the hardcorer than thou types which skiing has in no less a percentage than most other sports, and the general tradition of being associated with the wealthy (fair or not I don’t know) and I think it’s pretty bad.

  • @johnzambenini

    Simon, I’m the first to admit there are d-bag roadies out there – Who’s not waved or lifted a few fingers off the brake hoods when passing another cyclist 100 miles from anywhere and had the guy not acknowledge the gesture?

    I agree with you to an extent about the ex-jock thing, but making a value judgment about the side of the tracks somebody comes from (i.e. how ‘outdoorsy’ they are or their sport is) is sort of the ultimate smugness. Thoughts?

  • Sumowrassler

    I’m surprised there aren’t more votes for cyclocross (or mountain biking.) @johnzambenini hit the nail squarely on the head about the sheer smug stench that permeates any gathering of ‘crossers, whether it’s the “training” they do in parks, the packs of them on mountain bike trails, or the steeplechase-douchebaggery of the races. “Behold us. We have specialty bikes that suck for both road riding and mountain biking and on which we race 2 weeks a year in the mud. Our excrement smells of fresh rasberries and lemon zest.”

    Speaking as a mountain biker, mountain bikers can be just as bad. Nearly any gathering of mountain bikers eventually turns into a genital size comparison contest as to who: (1) has the newest, most expensive and shiniest part (that they will replace in 6 months for the next newest, shiniest part); (2) has ridden the most miles or the most times in the last day/week/month/year (choose one); (3) has made that bi-weekly trip to some mountain bike Mecca while the rest of us worked 9-5 day jobs; or (4) rode the gnarliest line or hucked the biggest air on (insert name here) trail. Egad.

  • Anthony

    Roadies, all the way.

    Too bad (“I only climbing in the”) Gym Climbing douche isn’t listed, that would get a vote too.

  • James

    Roadies, being one of them, and seeing portly men in pro-team tour lycras getting all smug in their 10-grand carbon-everything bikes, and attacking them in my cheap aluminium workhorse.

    Mt. Seymour, British Columbia

  • Thomas

    I had to go with backpacking. But it isn’t backpackers as a whole, just the UL crew. If you are carrying what they think is too much, then they turn their noses up to you and think you are retarded.

  • Chris H.

    I could probably find reasons to vote for most of the categories, but since I’ve had more instances of snootiness with road bikers, I’ve got to vote that way. And like a lot of others have said, this is coming from a guy who spends a lot of time on a road bike.

    Picture of choice – Charakusa Valley, Karakoram Mountains, Pakistan

  • Jenna Mehring

    So tough to make a decision on this awesome poll, but my ultimate decider was my two-planked skier friend from Bozeman who has immense disdain for people on one plank (me), gapers on skis, and basically anyone who doesn’t ski like he does! Great guy, just not friendly to snowboarders and certain styles of skiing! Mfangano Island, Kenya—unbelievably awesome!

  • Steve

    Road bikers by far. Never seen a group more smug about their dedication to the sport and shaving their legs!

    Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

  • Reanne

    Sorry forgot to add what my fave photo is: Jason Murray, Namibia…tough decision, there are so many beautiful and moving photos!

  • Adam

    I know it’s hardly an adventure sport but the smuggest sport of all has to be GOLF. btw what’s Bouldering? (I live in the UK)

  • emerson

    hard to pick between roadies and triatheletes, went with tri, just to cut some gruffoff myself when i go on road rides…

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