Quote of the Day - As a rule, for no one does life drag more disagreeably than for him who tries to speed it up.
Recently there's been a trend in sports to be more extreme: records broken for taller, faster longer, steeper and just a hair more whatever than last year or the last race. The consequences, apart from steroid use and more disabling injuries, is death.
Death. That record is final.
Don't get me wrong here - I've participated in some of those sports (and lived to write about it) and I'm as big a sports fan as anybody. I've been down to 750 feet in a homemade submarine in Honduras. I've skied the Sudan Couloir on Blackcomb, a half-mile, ungroomed 45 degree slope that starts out inverted and ends at speeds approaching Mach 5 (at least that's what it feels like). But in each of those sports, there are some things I won't do.
I won't violate the recreational 130 foot limit for diving. I won't catch air off cliffs while skiing. I don't ski off-piste into avalanche territory. I won't ride my Harley without a helmet (or my bicycle, for that matter).
In each of those sports, there are people who are better than me. There are tech divers who've been down to the Andrea Doria at 190 feet, a wreck covered with fishing lines, fast currents and heavy sediment obscuring visibility. There are also divers who are still trapped down there, and fourteen have died in all. There are much better skiers than me, who star regularly in ski films and are absolutely spectacular skiers. There are also skiers who, like Billy Poole, died performing for those movies or for just the thrill of it. There a Harley riders who can perform standing up in formation while riding their bikes, and many who have died from injuries sustained while riding without a helmet.
I'm simply not that good, but I am also alive to tell about it. There's a lesson here, and I hope those that are into these extreme sports learn from this last lesson of 28-year old Billy Poole's death (see last link). If you are one or know someone who is, then shorter, slower, more gradual and calmer may save a life. You can be a winner in other ways.
Other questions abound, however. Do the sponsors have liability? Do the filmmakers have liability? Did the participant sign a waiver? Even if the participant signed a waiver, is it valid - was it knowing and voluntary?
As I've written before, the legal doctrine of assumption of the risk likely bars any recovery for participants who are injured or died. The better question to ask, however, is whether it's worth it?