Risky business part of being an athlete

First published in the Lethbridge College Endeavour, Jan. 28, 2009

While all-star festivities in Montreal softened the attention a little, the big issue in the NHL right now is clearly fighting.

With the tragic death of Don Sanderson, an Ontario senior player, already sparking the debate, the AHL suffered a major scare last week. Philadelphia Phantoms forward Garrett Klotz had a seizure on the ice after hitting his face on the boards and then the ice during a fight.

However, Klotz was released from hospital the next morning and is expected to make a full recovery. On the other hand, the times of fighting in hockey may not.

The fact is, there are a lot of people who want to see the bare-knuckled boxing tossed from the game, and they just might get their wish if something isn’t done soon to prevent further disasters.

I, for one, am not excited about the threat of fighting’s demise. I am no different than anyone else in that I mourn death and cringe at tragedy, but if fighting is going to be removed from hockey then I want a few “problem areas” in some other activities omitted first.

Let’s start with auto racing.

Aside from being a terrible waste of time to start in one place and four hours later finish in the same spot, and being a blatant disregard for non-renewable resources, auto racing has this nasty habit of killing people.

Possibly the most famous driver of all time died because of a seatbelt malfunction, but even Dale Earnhardt’s biggest fans simply grieved and moved on.

However, since safety of people dumb enough to drive 200 m/hr while 40 other misled speedsters clip along right beside them is so important, I propose all cars to be governed at 35 m/hr.

Let’s move on to downhill skiing.

As citizens of this great society, it is up to us to protect those who are anxious to propel themselves Mach speed down a mountain wearing glorified 2 X 4’s on their feet and an orange perforated fence of plastic, the only thing between them and a 3,000-foot fall.

Paralyzed and/or dead are pretty standard fears for these people, even though they do it anyway, and we must ensure their odds of survival are first-rate.

All downhill racing must now take place on the bunny hill and the snow plough is now the only accepted form of stopping.

Lastly, let’s discuss North American football.

Even though a game consists of only six seconds of running, followed by a 45-second rest, the gruesome gridiron manages to produce exposed bones and crushed spines at a rate beyond any major sport.

“Early retirement” is not a term used in football because it happens so frequently that early is just normal.

Every pileup looks dangerous to an outsider, so from now on the NFL is twohand touch only.

If the sarcasm hasn’t poured off the page yet, my point to all of this is athletes take risks that are simply part of the game.

Before we limit bungee jumpers to sixfoot chords, force helmets onto golfers, and witness the Tour de France winner descend into Paris on a tricycle; let’s realize people choose to live such risky lives.

If you can’t take it, don’t watch. If you don’t like it, don’t play.

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