Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Is sport worth dying for?

See the article at Religion Dispatches for a discussion of this question. It seems to me that in one sense, sport is not worth dying for, given that it is a form of play, albeit serious play. As the author of the piece points out, the real question is whether or not sport is worth the risk of death, which is present in many sports. I would answer that yes, at least some sports are worth the risk of death, because for some they are near-necessary elements of a flourishing human life. I'm not arguing that we should not seek to make sports as safe as possible--so the changes to the Olympic luge run might be justified, as are whatever can be done in the NFL to prevent brain damage from head trauma--but I do believe that we should not go to the other extreme and make physical safety the primary concern that trumps all others. When I ride my bicycle on the country roads of Madison County, it is generally pretty safe. However, in some sense I'm risking my life, as all it takes is one distracted or drunk driver to end my existence, or just one mistake by me on the bike sending me hurtling into concrete, asphalt, or barbed wire. Of course, we all risk our lives when we go to the grocery store, cross the street, go to work, and so on. I won't be hang gliding or sky diving any time soon, but as soon as the snow and ice go away and the temperature climbs back above freezing, I'll be back on my bike, riding carefully.

HT: Rob Sica


Char Weaving said...

Thanks for posting this Mike. Although an awful and devastating occurrence, I found it very interesting that in order to "go on with the Games", they moved the men's starting position to the so-called "ladies" start. Which then resulted in the women or should I say "ladies" starting at the Junior, Tourist or "kinder" start.

Why couldn’t the women race from the “ladies” start like their male competitors? I wonder if there was fear that women might achieve luge speeds and times comparable to men—and then what would we do???? I see similarities between the luge start positions and women’s fight for ski jumping at the Olympics.

Finally, perhaps many may interpret my comments as coming from a ‘bitter’ Canadian who is struggling with how the Vancouver Games are described in International press :) :) :)

Carl Thomen said...

Char, I think the games have been awesome! I've become nocturnal lately, going to bed at 5am and getting up well after noon just to catch all the action. I think the winter games are far superior to the summer games (no, I don't want to start a debate about this, it's just my opinion :-)

I love the increased risk of most of the winter sports (no, curling, stop trying to be cooler than bowls), and the attitude of the athletes (see Shaun White, Amy Williams and the girl who does boarder-cross with a pom-pom on her helmet). And my field hockey boys could learn a thing or two watching ice-hockey (the Canadian women are AWESOME).

Why are there even different starts for luge in the first place? Juniors I can understand, but women? Why not just flatten the downhill a bit(my favourite event) while we're at it?

I'm also truly pissed off at the way the press in Britain have condemned the games (not all, mind you). It smacks of a superior "If we'd have done this, no one would have died" attitude. And Canada can't control the weather goddamnit. It's true that I am an unashamed Vancouverphile, but seriously, just the scenery makes it all worth it.

Mike Austin said...

I agree that the ladies should have stayed in the same starting position. I for one would have loved to see how the times compared. I have no idea, since I have no idea what it takes to excel in the sport beyond what the casual fan knows. I've watched less of the Games than I would have liked, but have enjoyed what I've seen very much. And I've only been to Vancouver once for the day, but would love to get back to that beautiful city!