ESPN and X Games must decide what is too extreme

Courtesy of MCT

Courtesy of MCT

Are you prepared to take the risk? Each year, hundreds of extreme sports athletes put their skills to the test at ESPN’s X Games.

Some find glory in the form of a gold medal. Some aren’t so lucky.

X Games officials look to re-evaluate the safety and protection of athletes in future events after the death of 25-year-old Caleb Moore during a snowmobile trick at the Winter X Games last month. This death may be the only one that is a direct result from the X Games, but there have been more when it comes to the world of extreme sports.

Six-time X Games champion skier Sarah Burke died from a crash on a half pipe while gearing up for the Winter X Games.

Such risk is well known with the stunts and tricks that go into this extreme sport; the X Games sponsor snowmobilers, snowboarders and skateboarders among other various extreme sports athletes. The risk is evident in the tricks these athletes attempt, and succeed, to do, but one error can cost them their life.

And though the X Games have put the safety and protection of the athletes first, the growth of the X Games comes with an expansion of risks.

“For 18 years, we have worked closely on safety issues with athletes, course designers and other experts,” read a statement by ESPN after Moore’s death. “Still, when the world’s best compete at the highest level in any sport, risks remain.”

Safety has always been a major concern in all sports especially when the athletes are performing life-threatening stunts. As the death of Caleb Moore gave reason behind safety concern, it is vital that some of these tricks performed have been practiced and succeeded at completing them without error. There is a risk behind every choice an athlete makes during their 75-second time frame for the judges.

But this level of risk will never balance out the level of safety. The athletes that participate in these events know what they are risking; no protocol or policy will change the fact that they will continue to push themselves to impress the judges.

The news of Caleb Moore may be a turning point due to the death being tied directly to the X Games. This event could improve the safety regulations for snowmobiles but it cannot guarantee the policy will change for the other sports involved.

Still, the greater emphasis on safety should be brought into action in regards to all athletes, not just young ones. With the constant injuries that occur during these life threatening tricks and stunts, it is important to concentrate on how to prevent possible injuries by either limiting the stunts or the risk factor.

ESPN and the X Games are representatives of extreme sports and are being questioned on if they are too extreme. This question will continue to occur unless the regulations and policies can accommodate a way for the athletes to still show off their skills, but doing so in a safer manner for all.

About Kristin Wiseman