Random thoughts on a variety of subjects
by Sam Redman
Snowboarding is a nothing but daredevil “sport” and should not be getting the extensive media exposure that it does, causing it to be glamorized among young men. Traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury is on the rise as the tricks become more insane. Just Google (or Bing) the phrase, “traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries snowboarding.” This is a tragic trend. This is what an article in WebMD stated:
“Data came from 24 studies on skiing and snowboarding injuries from countries including the U.S., Canada, Japan, Switzerland, and Austria.
Here are the key findings:
Traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury appear to be rising among skiers and snowboarders.
That trend matches the rise in acrobatic and high-speed moves on the slopes.
Young men are the most likely snowboarders and skiers to sustain such injuries.”
Can the message be any clearer? It is a foolish non-sport which is causing brain and spinal cord injuries in young men. No amount of safety precautions (such as helmets and pads) are going to prevent these injuries from happening. If a professional like Kevin Pierce, who was extremely skilled, could sustain such an injury, beginners and those with limited experience are obviously at a far greater risk. Those victims won’t get the publicity, nor the financial assistance from big sponsors and therefore won’t receive a million dollar rehabilitation (which often can’t do much anyway as some are left as para or quadriplegics). They can only rely on whatever is provided by welfare assistance.
Continuing to glorify this risky activity is madness. Could the New York Times do an article profiling, for example, 50 or more snowboarders who have recently sustained and are attempting to live with severe spinal cord and brain injuries (just contact the authors of a few of those studies) so that the public can be made aware of the insanity of promotion and participation in this insanity?
Someone advanced the silly argument that Snowboarding is justified because Boxing and Football are still legal. However, that is a ridiculous position. Boxing definitely Boxing definitely should join the ranks of the banned sports in the same way cock fighting and dog fighting are no longer legal (obviously, humans have far more value than animals and we should act for people at least in like fashion as we do to protect fowl and canines.). Brain injuries (like that suffered by Muhammad Ali) which destroy productive lives are rampant among former boxers, showing up years after they are out of the sport. Boxing cannot be made safe even with helmets. The AMA (American Medical Association) has a long-standing position calling for the sport of boxing to be banned. Nelson Richards, MD, from the American Academy of Neurology (the brain injury physicians who see the damage repeatedly), stated, “There is absolutely no way you can make boxing safe.”
Football can possibly make changes as far as helmet and neck protection and huge research efforts are underway (including tests with various helmet candidates) to create a playing situation which does not result in concussions and subsequent brain damage. But, the NFL is very aware that this is an emergency situation with scores of former players actually unable to function mentally in their fifties and older and the NFL is working to try to create equipment which can make the sport safe.
Snowboarding is far more dangerous than even boxing or football and has no place in a civilized society. A review recently published in the journal, “Injury Prevention,” concluded that head and spinal injuries are on the rise as a result of skiing and snowboard accidents. It stated that faster speeds and complicated maneuvers are leading to more head and spine injuries among downhill skiers and snowboarders. And what’s significant is that while injuries in general are declining in these two sports, head injury is continuing to rise.
In that article it also stated that a survey of several United States ski resorts found that helmets were worn by just one in eight skiers and snowboarders. However, even if helmets are worn, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that only half of head injuries on the slopes could be prevented by those helmets. So helmets are simply not a solution.
The argument that a sport which has a high risk of brain injury is justified because “people are interested in watching” it is ludicrous logic. A comment to that effect was made in response to my posting on the NYtimes online of the first part of this discussion in response to an article about snowboarder Kevin Pierce suffering a brain injury. That nonsense was highlighted as a choice posting (while mine was not). That was an irresponsible response by the NYtimes editor (or perhaps the blog author). Medieval spear and sword fighting were at one time legal in England and other European countries, but are no longer permitted in any civilized cultures. Those would be fun to watch as well (and there are actually those who would like to see it made legal), but our culture has progressed considerably since those days. Snowboarding is as primitive as sword fighting and in the face of the steady rise in traumatic brain and spinal injuries in young men (now all over the world) there is no reasonable argument for its continued promotion and encouragement.