Competitive sports are built on two concepts: competition and danger. The higher the intensity level for either, the more enticing the sport becomes.
The more competitive a sport becomes, the more athletes are required to train and devote themselves to being successful. As the competition increases, risks as the athletes push their abilities to the limits at each event also increases.
This has become increasingly apparent in sports such as football and hockey with their concussion rates. But the danger is an even larger concern in action sports such as auto racing, motocross, snowmobile racing and just about anything with wheels or a motor. It is all for their enjoyment and entertainment for the fans. Although fans love to see the crashes and hard hits, they should remember the threat that lingers within each one.
These dangers are usually the last thing that viewers think about as they watch their favorite sport, but about ever year or so, we are reminded how each athlete is putting their life at risk each time they put on their uniform. This year it was during the Winter X Games in Colorado, when freestyle snowmobile rider Caleb Moore lost his life.
Moore was attempting to do a backflip trick when there was an error in his landing and the snowmobile ended up rolling over him. Moore left the event with assistance, but later passed away due to a head injury. Although Moore passed too soon, at just 25-years-old, there is no doubt he died doing what he loved.
That fact is what drives every athlete, especially in action sports and motor sports. No matter how many times they may fall or crash, they will always get back up. The risk is laid out on the table the day they venture into their sport, but once they get a taste of the thrill and adrenaline, there is no turning back. A prime example of this is action sports legend Travis Pastrana.
Pastrana, who has now made his move to NASCAR, competing fulltime in the Nationwide Series, used to tear up the dirt with his dirt bikes. He has won multiple championships and X Games gold medals with his bikes, but all that success didn’t come without a few tumbles. Pastrana has cheated death several times with injuries, including a dislocated spine, two back surgeries, nine surgeries on his left knee, six surgeries on his right knee, and a broken tibia and fibula.
Pastrana holds a high record for number of bones broken, but there are many other action sports stars that have suffered similar injuries. No matter how many times riders break a bone or even face death, there are some sports where certain risks are out of their hands to prevent. Moore’s accident was an unusual occurrence and, according to X Games, the first death in their 18 year history.
It is impossible to predict when something will go wrong, but once it does the only thing we can take away from it is to remember how athletes risk their lives to provide the fans with entertainment and to learn from what happens. It is a shame that it takes a serious accident like Moore’s to reveal the unseen flaws. But in every case the proper improvements were made and future lives were saved.
The competition is what drives the athletes and the danger is what makes them the stars that they are. Whether they are making a tackle, jumping a snowmobile or driving a car over 200 mph, they are doing it for the love of the sport. So no matter what the risks, they will never hesitate about putting on their uniform and going to work.
-Published in The Oswegonian