A thin line between courage and madness

I’ve injured my foot on the weekend, and spent my entire Saturday at a hospitals waiting room. Luckily I’m okay, although I am limping like a Quasimodo lol. So while I bummed around on a couch, I stumbled upon some videos, which are as visually compelling as they are frightening. They got me thinking about the glamorization of danger in sports and our entertainment-craving culture that defines risk taking as “cool.” It’s not a new phenomenon: back in ancient Rome politicians appeased the crowd through means of panem et circenses – meaning bread and circuses. Gladiatorial games is a good example of that.

Still, some people don’t seem to realize that they can die. Or maybe it’s the constant insatiable need to push the boundaries of what is possible, to provide more content to social media, to stand out in the 9 billion crowd and to be – as GoPro says- a “hero”. Whatever it is, the roofing/parcour craze has resulted in reckless stunts like these: https://goo.gl/7zQXWn (a guy does pull-ups ontrain cables) https://goo.gl/jC5RL8 (a guy sets himself on fire and jumps of 9 storey building). Needless to say, many thrillseekers lives will be lost for a few moments of fun and admiration. And its a real shame, because surely, bravery and bravado can be shown in many other ways, like standing up for your beliefs, fighting the right cause and saving lives, not to mention, living life in the real world with all of its challenges and rollercoaster rides. Not that I don’t admire some of the freerunners endurance and fitness levels, but I also think that there is a thin line between courage and madness.

“Chicago”by mattclare is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

As a person who loves motorcycles and ziplining and other extreme sports, I completely understand the feeling of a wanting to experience that “rush”, and I don’t think that its nesessary to give it up entirely, but I think that caution and moderation is important and should be excersiced by most athletes that want to make it to their next traning session. Most of the so called extreme sports I enjoy are relatively “tame” and safe, unless you take them to the next level. For example, you are not gambling with your life when you are sky diving, in fact it’s a standard practice for military recruits, and it has become extremly safe over the years. There is roughly 1 death per 100,000 jumps. That is a lot safer than driving, where the risk of dying is closer to 1 in 6000. But I think things that have absolute zero safety protocol are a whole another matter: making backflips on top of a skyscraper is one of those things, where there is no room for error and a very thin margin between life and death. The chances of plunging to your death are quite literally 50/50, that is even more dangerous than a Russian roulette. In my mind, that is not a sport you can rely on.

Often, you hear an argument that even though they die young, they “have lived their life to the fullest.” I think there is a inherent flaw in such logic. A lifetime of rich varied experiences cannot be compared to a few hours, or even days of a risky activity, no matter how satisfying and adventurous it is. If you live your life for an adrenalin rush only, then you are not unlike an addict who lives his life looking for his next fix. Excess of anything is never healthy, but maybe that’s just how humans are wired. Too much of anything is never enough.

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