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Are sports becoming too dangerous?



When you compare the number of accidents in sports with the number of accidents on roads it is obvious that 'extreme sports' are really not that dangerous.
James Palmer, USA

So tedious, in fact, have our lives become we now feel an absolute need to throw ourselves off mountains and cliffs, hurtle ourselves along at phenomenal speeds (in the flimsiest of vehicles) and batter each other hand over fist on the playing fields!
Steve Beat, Scotland

Just two of the comments Talking Point received. Read more below.

Background ¦ Your reaction

The Background:

The canyoning tragedy in Switerland, which has claimed 19 lives, has highlighted the dangers of high-risk adventure sports.

"Explore an exciting world of unspoiled beauty by sliding through rapids, jumping off waterfalls, and rappelling down cliffs" is how the expedition organisers advertise the sport.

It's the inherent dangers of many adventure sports that attracts thrill-seekers in growing numbers every year - often without proper training and equipment.

Adrenaline-junkies argue that it is human nature to push back the boundaries of achievement.

But is it fair to expect rescue workers to risk their lives when things go wrong?

Swiss government official Samuel Bhend said authorities would be examining whether there should be tighter limits on such sports.

"There are questions about these adventure holidays and how far we should go in search of an adrenaline rush," he said. "Maybe we should learn again to respect the limits set by nature."

What do you think?

Are people going too far in their desire to seek new challenges and test their physical and mental resolve? Are sports becoming too dangerous?

Background ¦ Your reaction

Your Reaction:

As long as these "athletes" take full responsibility for breaking their own necks what do I care what they jump off!! I (part of the US insurance paying public) am tired of paying the bills for people who hurt themselves doing things that are not necessary!
Jodi, USA

Since when does having fun mean the same thing as risking your life - or others?
CF, Canada

Four Years ago my wife and I went on the same trip with the same company in Switzerland. The safety of the adventure was the utmost important in our guides concern. My wife and I also know our limitations. I may have rappelled more aggressive than she did, but we both got the thrill and felt as safe as we could when trying something out of the "norm".
The guides seemed to realise that this is the first time for some of the tourists to do these activities as we go down the canyon. I never felt any of us were ever in danger. We weren't climbing Everest. We were bouldering, and feeling safely thrilled.
I feel for those lost, and the families. But it wasn't the activity as much as it was the wrong place at the wrong time, as are most tragic accidents.
Nikoli, USA

These daft "activities" such as bungie jumping and the rest of "extreme sports" are NOT sports, they are mainly high risk activities pursued by lazy morons who want the thrills but aren't prepared to learn the skills. I suggest these people take a look at F1, gymnastics and even professional skateboarding to determine what real danger is. Real danger is when it is your only hard-earned skill and determination that stop yourself from serious injury, not a knot in a rope tied by some Californian. And as far as endangering rescuers lives, tough, if you're so RADICAL get yourself out of the situation.
John Howell, England

Whose life is it anyway? Horse riding kills more than rock climbing, ban horses? Get real, each to their own as long as no one else is injured. If they do die, at least they die living their life how they wanted instead of wrapped up in cotton wool.
Andrew Torrance, Wales

If those 19 people had been hiking up the canyon, or studying the rock formations for research, would there still be an outcry against 'adrenaline sports'. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, perhaps they were ill informed about prevailing weather conditions, but that's not a problem with the sport, we're are all ill informed sometimes
Matt Watson, UK

I don't think that sports are becoming too dangerous. There is nothing new about dangers in sports. Bull fighting has existed for 1000's of years. People who participate in any sport know that there is always a risk of injury. When I went canyoning on July 27 in Switzerland, I was well aware that there are some risks involved. Just like there are risks when I jump into a recreational swimming pool. No one could have predicted a natural disaster like the one that I experienced. Is golfing dangerous? No, not unless lightning unexpectedly strikes the golf course.
Tami, USA

I believe that today's younger generations need extreme sports to make life that bit more challenging. These days it is far too easy for people to get house bound with all the new home entertainment available. In my view it is far better for that extreme sports increase rather than most people turning into hand set control freaks. With regards to the danger aspect, taking up an extreme sport is not forced upon anybody.
Greg Quinn, England

Well I think they are, and the number of rugby accidents just for one example is appalling. I had to watch my son battle his way to recuperate a severe concussion after being severely kicked on the head ... no matter what anyone says I truly believe that sports are no longer for gentlemen, but for centric louts who are only interested in the win, not the way the game is played. What a contrast to when I was young!
Heartbroken mom, Canada

Competition is fun. To be the best you have to work hard.
Geoffrey Ward, Australia

The very fact that this question is being asked is symptomatic of the neurosis which has reached epidemic proportions in the 1990's. There is no such thing as a 'risk-free' life and misguided (and often self-serving) attempts to create one will soon reach a point where demands for further regulation of our lives make any sort of life not worth living. The truth is that we are living in an age when there isn't much to worry about and, as a consequence, we seem to worry about everything.
David J. K. Carr, UK

SPORTS are no longer SPORTS! Games that cause DEATH are definitely not sports. Maybe, we should rename them with a new word like " lethal sports".
Elanor, Greece

I hope the families of those that died in the recently well-publicised Swiss canyoning accident harbour no blame for what happened. With no disrespect intended, everything is dangerous if you want it to be. And not necessarily because you're bored, desperate or unsatisfied. No mainstream headline will allow inherently dangerous sports such as canyoning to produce tragedy without holding up a Blair-esque holier-than-thou denouncement. It is certainly dangerous 'sport' to OVER-protect our living and working environment by media-induced decree. It is glaringly obvious that for every tragedy that could have been avoided, there will be a clearing up job by those that understand human nature.
Leave money out of the equation. Let go and allow us to breathe. It's painful to watch tragedy, but unavoidably we can be stronger from it.
Ambrose Hudson, England

The choice is individual. Also I think that people are highly aware of the dangers that extreme sports have. What needs to be regulated is the preparation of the group leaders. The market of extreme sport is not properly regulated and even elementary precautions are not taken.
Alessandro Fiascaris, Italy

People should see the great IMAX short film called EXTREMES to see the kind of thrills young people idealise. We live in an amphetamine soaked culture, fostered largely by corporate interests: work faster, work longer, live harder, consume more and more. Parents only have themselves to blame for the victimisation of the young by the 'hyper-consumer' culture
Jeff Richards, Australia

I'd have no problem dying doing a sport I love. You have to get a kick from somewhere and it's not going to be at your 9 to 5.
Dave, UK

D Cantrell of England says that he doesn't expect to be rescued if he messes up but unfortunately the rest of the community and particularly the media would be outraged if he were left to dangle on the end of a rope.
Inevitably the person in an accident will always have to be rescued even if dead, if that is humanly possible. Thus the whole idea of the adrenaline rush is selfishness and to hell with society
Jack, England.

For some time now children's lives have been hyped up to such an extent by TV, videos and computer games. These kids then grow into young adults who expect life to be continually exciting. Everyday life is often tedious and humdrum and young people expect more. They are not trained to cope, hence this search for thrills and adventure. There is a need however to increase awareness of the real dangers of many of these activities.
Peter Kidds, UK

Standard knee-jerk panic reaction, very characteristic of people in general
Bill Schuessele, UK

Certainly, sports are becoming too dangerous. We see it while men like Mike Tyson bite the ears off opponents and then are encouraged to get back in the ring again. We see it with daredevils doing stupid things. We see it in the idea that men and women have to do nutty things to prove themselves. We see it in our ignorance of the common sense of life.
Dave Adams, USA

The choice is up to the individual. Whether we should mop and pick up the consequences of such idiotic pursuits is another question.
Bill Bell, UK

Generally adventure sports are perceived as dangerous by a portion of the general public. As a provider of adventurous activities (including canyoning a.k.a. gorge walking in Wales) for the public for I know from experience and training that this is usually only a perceived risk when activities are run by well trained and experienced people within a risk assessment culture. Very often the responsible company restricts people from taking risks they would not see if unsupervised, but without reducing their enjoyment of activities which when properly managed are inherently safe.
Pete Carol, Wales

You cannot regulate 'extreme' sports. Sportspeople reserve the right to be stupid. If some nitwit wishes to ski over a canyon wearing a superman costume so be it, but if we pay too much attention to these brainless endeavours shame on us. Let them break their bones anonymously.
JR MACKIE, USA

People really should be allowed to do what they want. The problem is when other people, usually the emergency services and the taxpayer, have to pick up the pieces. I would have no problem if people were required to take out insurance to cover rescue, medical and lost work costs that everyone else has to fund at the moment.
James Hurr, UK

Surely it is only in our protected times that the question even arises. People have always done dangerous things, from going on safari to hunt lions, riding horses or trying them new-fangled flying machines. Why do we suddenly think that life should be safe?
Rik G, UK

People indulge in these sports for a variety of reasons: to test their own limits, to prove themselves to others, to experience thrills not found elsewhere. In other societies and other ages, the same needs have been met by such pastimes as duelling and active war. Dangerous?
Peter, Netherlands

I have lived in a developing country for the last 8 years and on my return to Australia I am amazed by the efforts to keep me safe. I must wear a helmet on my bicycle, there must be the right cushioning below the playground equipment, certain toys are banned. To get a bit of a thrill I must take on the extreme sports. What ever happened to live and let live?
Don George, Australia

In today's safe and sanitised world it's nice to see that there's still some room for good, old-fashioned Darwinism. These dangerous games perform the very important service of eliminating the genetically stupid from the gene pool. Let's not look a gift horse in the mouth shall we...
Krow, USA

The whole debate assumes that if they were too dangerous you could ban them, which is farcical. Knee jerk reactions are never to be trusted.
Paul Hides, England

You can die from a peanut these days - might as well die doing something you get a kick from...
Elizabeth Coldwell, UK

Sports are dangerous, that is part of the excitement about them. All that needs to be done is advise people about the dangers and let them make up their own minds. The problem occurs when an accident happens and the sports person was not told about the risks and looks for someone to blame.
Patrick Lyons, England

The risks are still negligible compared to smoking or being a construction worker. It is because fatalities are infrequent that they make headline news, rather like the coverage of air disasters as opposed to the far more commonplace road fatalities which kill far more people.
Mick, UK

Don't be so afraid of dying that you never experience life. Anything can be dangerous if done without proper training. Those who put profits before people's lives should be punished, not those who enjoy the thrill of adventure. As background, I scuba dive, surf, ski and climb, ride a motorbike and enjoy rugby greatly (not all simultaneously). I'm still alive.
Jon Stone, England

With 'Adrenaline' sports becoming more prevalent, it would be easy to lay blame for recent tragedies on the dangerous nature of these sports. People who undertake these sports are fully aware of the dangers involved and actively seek them out.
Extraneous factors were the reason for this recent disaster, not the experience or safety precautions of those participating. One can only learn lessons from this rather than condemn sports as 'too dangerous'. If we start to place restrictions where will it lead - to the coveting of more popular sports such as Boxing, Rugby or Motorsports?
John D, UK

Nanny Media, that is really the problem. There just isn't enough "human interest" material to sell all these newspapers. Whilst it is a personal tragedy that people are injured and die; every time this now happens a campaign begins to a) assign blame onto someone or thing and b) enact yet more laws that are supposed to prevent people from 'harming themselves'.
Dirk Koopman, UK

If canyoning is too dangerous then what about other sports, rugby for instance, which has at least one fatality every year in addition to young boys becoming paralysed and a whole host of other minor injuries.
Sally, USA

Not dangerous necessarily, but they are becoming more aggressive, which doesn't set a good example to the fans, especially young children who admire them.
Catherine Williams, UK

How many people die every day from illnesses caused by lack of exercise, sitting at home being 'safe'
Kevin Wood, UK

Anyone with a brain cell between their ears, who voluntarily puts themselves in a hazardous position and then suffers injury or death, in my opinion, accepts ALL risks that go with the pursuit.
S. Patel, UK

People chuck themselves in front of trains and off high rise building to kill themselves - I never would. Why don't we get the government to wrap the whole country in foam padding because that would make it safer! Or then of course we could come back to reality and allow people to get on with making their own decisions and hope the state can stay OFF our backs. Probably an optimistic dream I know!
Chris, UK

Is the Swiss tragedy yet another example of the desire for profits coming before safety? Or is it simply a tragic accident that reminds us of the awesome power of nature?
Bruce, New Zealand

Most sports have some element of danger. It's the careless and unprepared who get hurt. And anyway, if it takes one of these extreme sports to give you a thrill then just do it, we're in this life to enjoy it not hide indoors worrying about everything!
Matt, Ireland

I have participated in a number of so-called 'Dangerous Sports' in the past. (I prefer to call them 'Adventure Sports'.) Of course there is inherent danger in these sports, as there is in any non-sedentary activity. I've always felt safer 200 feet up a rock face than I ever do driving on a motorway during the rush hour.
In most people's minds the danger is perceived, based on the natural fear of heights (in the case of rock climbing) or fear of confined spaces (in the case of caving). But actual danger can be minimised by embarking on correct training, using correct and serviceable equipment, and having a healthy respect for one's own self-preservation and knowing one's limits.
Phil Taylor, United Kingdom

The proliferation of dangerous sports is in some way reflecting the portrait of society at the end of the 20th century as depicted in the 1970's film Rollerball, which featured a society whose lust for danger and violence was sated by a dangerous sport.
Spiros Unker, UK

I think sports are becoming dangerous. And I would like the Governments to adopt a safety law for the Sport Adventurers. They need to be made aware, and constantly reminded, that they are "mothers-of-all-risk-takers". If all is said and done, it is important, that we don't allow ill-gotten men to take a comfort in those sports.
Tajudeen Isiaka, Nigeria

Virtually every winter there are calls to ban winter mountaineering in the Scottish Highlands. About 20 years ago there were calls to ban caving because of a spate of rescues and deaths as a result of bad weather.
This is a knee jerk reaction by people who don't understand the thrill and excitement of these sports. These calls are always expressed through the media, the same media that glamorises dangerous sports. Perhaps there is also a wealth aspect involved, when was the last time there were well publicised calls to ban formula 1 racing or speculating at air shows.
The UK rescue teams are all volunteers (i.e. climbing, caving, RNLI), nobody makes the rescuers go out and attempt to rescue people, they do it because they understand the draw of these activities.
John Fidler, Netherlands

I don't think the sports are becoming more dangerous, I think that normal life is becoming safer and thus the sports appear more dangerous. Let's put it into context: I scuba dive, skydive and race. I also saw active military service for two years in a war zone. In the past few years I have lost more friends due to criminal action than due to scuba, skydiving, and the army combined. Now talk to me about danger sports!
Mike , South Africa

Once you look at today's society, you will see that we are losing all the qualities our parents had in sports. Due to this boredom created by the vacuum of today's generation in general life and family trends, you find all sorts of new sports that are meant to test the will of a person. With the need of a human being to show that he is capable, we always look for ways to go to extremes - that is what makes the sports really dangerous.
Micheal, Spain

Sports are such big business it has forced the daredevils to want a piece of the pie. Dropping from parachutes to snow board? Ah Come on.
Jane McLaughlin, U.S.A.

The problem is not "extreme sports" but the ever-growing "Nanny State" that drives people to them. It used to be possible, for example, to have a minor thrill by leaning out of the windows of the train that took you home, a relatively low risk activity that gave you a hint of risk and made your journey a bit less mundane. But the safety zealots decreed this unsafe, and so now we have sealed trains and boring journeys - so people save up their frustrations and go on extreme holidays instead. The fact is, humans did not evolve to live in a totally safe environment, and trying to create one is not doing society any favours.
Jack Howard, England

Surely the point in life is learning how to fully live, in whatever form this may take. Who can possibly interfere with such a search?
David Talbot, UK

A sports can be as dangerous as the people participating in them want them to be. No one outside of that sport has the ability to comment!
Chris Barrett, England

In every walk of life it seems that we are removing all potential risk. This is not necessarily a good idea as I believe we all need excitement in life. No doubt the lawyers will shortly be involved in the latest tragedy and we will see another avenue of enjoyment strangled due to liability and someone being heavily sued.
Peter Dowson, England

Probably canyoning is more dangerous than playing chess. But it is nonsense (and typical for the media after such catastrophes) to generally question the safety of that sport as that incident occurred under exceptional circumstances. If the group would have arrived maybe just 15 minutes later, then nothing would have happened as they wouldn't have gone into the water. Maybe one can blame the guides for this incident, but not the sport which otherwise seems to be fairly safe.
Robert Junk, Australia

It isn't the sports that are the problem, its the people doing them. Everyone needs to understand the seriousness of sports in nature, and be prepared for anything that may happen. It is essential that people don't simply do extreme sports without the proper knowledge and preparation.
Jen Komaromi, USA

Dangerous sports are not the imaginatively entitled extreme sports, rather the more mundane sports of Rugby and Football. A&E units up down the country are filled week after week with injuries due to these sports.
Jonathan Copp, UK

I don't think one should call them 'sports' as much as pastimes - but we all have to die of something. If it's stupidity, so be it. Community can't be responsible for everything. No one forces anyone into these things, and there are surely many opportunities to back out.
Punit, UK

If you want thrills, if you think it's cool to put your life at risk, why not try some relief aiding in the disaster area of your choice? Satisfaction guaranteed!
Sonia Rowland, Germany (UK expat)

The response to this tragedy is understandable, bearing in mind the number of people killed but one must realise that they died not for the reason that the sport is too risky but for cause of human error. Had the organisers bothered to check the forecast then perhaps this tragedy may not have happened. If you compare these 'risk' sports to sports like football or rugby, then you will find many more people die with the latter two pastimes. If you compare the statistics with drinking, or driving a car, or smoking then the become incomparable. It is a nature of our society that a sport like 'canyoning' will be banned because relatively few people do it, yet smoking drinking and driving will not be banned because millions participate.
Jon Harford, Belgium

Are sports becoming too dangerous?

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