Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The End of the Cannonball

You must read this. This is ridiculous.

Outlawing high dives? Tearing down a high-dive that has been there, responsible for not one single injury, for 42 years?

No, I'm not kidding. I wish I were.

Cast in the role of natatorial killjoy in this sad story is Katie Moore, a registered sanitarian with the Texas Department of State Health Services, the agency responsible for the new rules. While others worry about hang time and water displacement, Moore worries about broken necks—or the potentiality of a broken neck. Or, presumably, in the case of the cannonball, even a contused butt cheek.

“I sympathize,” she says. “I know diving boards are a lot of fun. But why wait until someone is injured?” Moore says “there are studies all over the place” proving that diving boards put swimmers in peril.

To which one is tempted to reply: um, no duh.

Diving boards are supposed to be dangerous. Or “dangerous.” Because with all due respect to the hard-working, well-meaning bureaucrats at the Department of State Health Services, how dangerous can diving boards really be if the City of Richardson can erect one that’s nearly 10 feet tall, then let men, women, and children of all ages and levels of dexterity leap from it for 42 years without breaking a single neck?


Bicycles are dangerous. Swings are dangerous. Skateboards, Rollerblades, baseball bats, pogo sticks—neck breakers all. But fun.

“To me, it’s such a safety Nazi type of thing,” John Lanius says. “You can’t even find a merry-go-round anymore. We’re protecting our kids out of childhood.”

Protecting our kids out of childhood. He's exactly right.

I think the blame for this protective zealotry falls at least in part on our uber-litigious society. We should be able to take our own risks, but more and more people are unable to accept the consequences when something doesn't go right. They want to make someone else responsible, and make someone else pay, hence the death of the high dive. So it comes down to the Texas Dept. of State Health Services doing nothing more than trying to remove the possibility of injury in order to minimize the possibility of a lawsuit.

Either way - whether it's CYA or just safety Nazi for the sake of being a safety Nazi - it's a sad day. It's a pity that my kids will likely never know the thrill of climbing that ladder, looking down into the water (didn't it always look so much higher from up there than it did from the ground?), and taking that leap off the high dive for the first time.


ozymandiaz said...

Ya know what else is dangerouse? Breathing. Sooner or later someone is going to inhale something that will kill them so we should outlaw the practice before something horrible happens.

Chris said...

Sigh....I loved the high dive at the YMCA in Jacksonville where I grew up. I remember being terrified, learning to dive.

You're right. Part of being a kid is doing terrifying things. As I kid, we used to run and jump off of our carport to see who could go the furthest. We used to build bicycle ramps and jump burning small pools of gasoline. Ironically, I ended up with a degree in occupational safety and health:)

My Blog