Football has been getting a lot of attention over the past few years. Concussion awareness, and the damage caused by repeated blows to the head – concussion inducing or not – has been front page news. However, there are other, much more dangerous and deadly activities that people engage in. I’m sure nobody would be surprised to find out that people get hurt on bikes and skateboards, but I am just as sure that these same folks would be shocked to find out the scope of the injuries and deaths.
My point is not that football is a safe activity. As a matter of fact, I am on record of saying the exact opposite. However, with all the attention being paid to football, I felt a bigger problem was being ignored. I did some quick fact finding and found that, indeed, there are a lot worse activities than football, and passed this info on to a group of colleagues. Check out the me-inspired post on Dustin Fink’s theconcussionblog.com.
So here is what I found. An amazing number of people die every year from riding their bikes. In 2008, 93 kids under 15 were killed and 13,000 suffered injuries. The statistics are sobering. Check out the link.
And then there is skateboarding. At the bottom of the post is a list of links to stories detailing accidents that have killed kids, permanently injured them, or at the time of publication brought them to deaths door. Visit the second link in the list and you will read about the parents of a kid with critical head injuries who say they are getting support from the people in the hospital room next door whose son also suffered a critical head injury a few days before.
Here’s an unofficial tally of skateboard deaths from 2006.
This list is just from the past few weeks, so imagine what the list would look like if we ran a search for the year. Since skateboarding, as are many of the other “X-Games” type activities, is performed in solitude and/or without any supervision or other organizational/safety controls, the injuries – including head injuries – must be severely underreported. Certainly, the helmets used (if used at all) by skateboarders cannot truly protect the head from the repetitive contacts experienced during falls.
These injuries happen in the streets, at skateparks, parking lots and other areas of public accommodation, as well as on private property, and throughout the year; there is no skateboarding season. With the popularity of this activity the real injury numbers, and health care costs, must be staggering. Skateboarding clearly represents an extremely unsafe risk to kids and yet the sports media and their partners constantly glorify this, and other, high-risk, activities.