Recently, ABC's Good Morning America covered the sad (not tragic because the kid is coming back!) story on Kevin Pearce's accident on his road to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Their overall coverage wasn't too bad considering that they are a major media property, but then of course, they had to bring an "Extreme Sports Consultant" in for a deeper dive.
Who would this be? Logical choices include Pat Parnell, Todd Richards or may be even Tina Dixon (what the hell is her claim to fame?).
Nope, they decided to bring in Christine Brennan, evidently a famed sports writer, who looks like a reject from CougarTown. Brennan proceeds to provide the predictable storyline about how EXTREME (now solely in capital letters for emphasis going forward) sports are dangerous and snowboarding was just added to the Olympics to boost ratings, and how evil the IOC is.
Ok, I do agree with CB (my buddy nickname for her) that the IOC is evil. I mean they run the FIS, the ski-nazi organization that originally tried to shut snowboarding out of any legitimate competition formats, until they realized it could make them $$$. But the rest of her argument is pure hogwash on a stick! She claims that athletes are pushing themselves to greater heights including tricks like the Double Cork, leading to disasterous results, including beloved KP in a medically induced coma.
EXTREME sports are a mathematical equation
CB uses an equation of Speed x Amplitude = Accident/Death to justify her diatribe that EXTREME sports are getting too dangerous. If we apply this equation across other Olympic sports, let's see what happens:
Aerial Skiing: Amplitude x Speed = success as far as I know. Without height and speed (two correlated actions), I'm not sure how any of those skiers can do those triple, cork, flip, Greg Louganis-type moves.
Figure Skating: Hmm, I'm pretty sure if we restricted all those skaters to "keep it safe and slow," they wouldn't be able to do those Triple Sow Cows, much less even do a proper cross-over.
Hockey: Ok, you can probably eliminate the Amplitude, but you need speed for those breakaway shots to deek the goalie, and c'mon, you probably need to replace Amplitude with some serious brute force.
Even, Curling: I don't know how you get that cast iron kettle thing moving if you don't have some speed. And I'm pretty sure that you'll get at least one mom jumping up and down if her kid makes the Olympic team for this EXTREME sport.
As you can see, if you apply her logic across any winter (or summer) sport, you'd find that we should just limit ourselves to competing against other countries in Pong or Wii Fit Bowling.
Snowboarding isn't ruining the Olympics, but are the Olympics runing snowboarding? I hate how it commercializes snowboarding, but shit, that's already happened. I'm a sucker for patriotic, feel-good stories. I just hope they had more "people of color" to the Winter Olympics. Right now it looks like a rejected Abercrombie and Fitch ad.
Action sports are dangerous?
Yes, we have seen an increase in the number of accidents and deaths as action sport professional athletes push their limits. Truly this is the evolution of each sport. Are ratings, energy-drink, TV, X-Games (owned by ABC parent company Disney) to blame? Probably.
But at the purest, our athletes... our heroes do this for the love of the game (cue Kevin Costner) and a desire to push those very limits that CB describes. If KP wasn't doing it here, he'd be doing it in the Backcountry (actually wait, he has been pushing it in the backcountry. Did you see his segment with Nico Muller in Neverland? Siiiick).
Summary/Conclusion/Reader's Digest Version
I'm saddened (but not surprised) that the mainstream media has latched onto this story like a leech to that kid's peepee in Stand by Me (for anyone born after 1990, here's the IMDB link.) But why you gotta bring KP down with ya? The kid is alright, and he was my number 1 choice for Olympic Gold prior to this incident (yah screw you Redbull-headed, Target kid) as he is a sick rider and not a damn halfpipe monkey robot. Big vibes his way, and CB, if I see you on the hill, you're definitely getting a big SLASH/spray.
Wanna hear more about how CB and her ilk are horrible for the sport? Check out Todd Richard's twitter for the latest amusing coverage.