When Awe Turns Awful

A reader writes:

If you haven’t had a chance to yet, I highly recommend you watch a new HBO documentary, The Crash Reel.  It’s the story of former professional snowboarder, Kevin Pearce, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after crashing in the half-pipe during a training run.  The movie does an amazing job showing exactly why we need to demand that if the people in charge of running the Olympics, the X-Games, the NFL, etc, won’t implement safety measures to protect these athletes from themselves, then we’re going to need the government to step in.

The specific issue for snowboarding competition is the ever increasing height of the half-pipe walls.

They allow for crowd-pleasing amplitude but has turned bumps, bruises, and the occasional broken bones into paralyzations, traumatic brain injuries, and deaths.  It took Kevin Pearce over two years to recover enough from his injury to realize that he could never snowboard professionally again, but if he hadn’t had the support of a truly amazing family, he would have been back on the slopes and had a very high chance of re-injuring his still-damaged brain.  His father draws the perfect analogy when he says something along the lines of, “NASCAR had to step in and limit the size of the engines in the race cars because, if they hadn’t, more and more drivers would be smashing into the walls.”

These athletes are conditioned to go bigger and it is up to us, as a society, to make sure rules are in place so they know they don’t need to maim or kill themselves to entertain us.

A related, long-running Dish thread: Is Football The Next Big Tobacco?