How does one participate ethically and with responsibly in an activity where the participant(s) wish to push the envelope? With river paddling, an objectively dangerous sport, we have swift water rescue certification and a group of dedicated, typically well-trained paddlers self-policing and generally taking care of buisness when it goes wrong. While outside agencies do come in from time to time to help there doesn't seem to be an outcry like there is for the apparent lack of seamanship sea kayaking brings into question when the CG, Forces and police get involved.
I don't have the answers. Here in Canada, the paddlesport community have organized and I'm sure there are discussions in back rooms about promoting better public perception. Boating, watersports, including paddle safety and deaths, have just undergone a huge review. Certainly young males don't seem to develop that part of the brain that mitigates against risk until later in life. Us older guys have no excuse, apparently.