During Super Bowl Week in New Orleans, the conversation continues about how to prevent injuries in the NFL. The union representing NFL players has given a $100 million grant to Harvard University to study how to limit the long-term damage to players from injuries.
As the talk about making the NFL safer for players escalates, prayers are going out for Caleb Moore, a 25-year-old professional snowmobiler, who remains in critical condition in a Colorado hospital following a crash last Thursday during the snowmobile freestyle competition at the Winter X Games in Aspen.
Caleb Moore was performing a Superman Indian Air Backflip that he had pulled off successfully many times, when he landed short on the flip and his 450-pound snowmobile landed on top of him as he slid down the ramp. At first it was believed Moore suffered only a concussion, but emergency surgery revealed that he also had brain and heart trauma. Moore’s grandfather said, “Caleb is not doing good at all.” Charles Moore continued, “It’s almost certain he’s not going to make it.”
Whether it is the violent nature of the NFL or the possibility of crashes at the Winter X Games, there will always be an inherit danger in most sports. In fact, it is the inherit danger that makes sports so compelling to watch.
We should all support any measures taken to reduce serious injuries in sports, but we should not be so naïve as to think we can somehow remove the element of danger from sports. When highly-conditioned 200 lb.+ athletes collide at top speed, there will never be a guarantee that a serious injury might not occur. As snowmobilers, snowboarders and skiers continue to gain altitude as they launch off of jumps, there will always be the possibility of serious injuries.
After the tragic shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, the call for new gun control laws has been accompanied with an unrealistic idea – we must act to ensure that this never happens again! The truth is that as long as humans are imperfect beings the possibility of danger will forever be part of the equation of life.
Studies can lead to reducing danger, but never eliminate the inherit danger in sports - and in life.