University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Would you risk your health for sport?

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Oct 8, 2012

James Hope

Given the wide range of sport clubs at Sussex, everyone should be able to find something that suits them, it may just mean diving outside conventional sports. It is entirely possible that you may find you excel at the daring but most definitely exhilarating extreme activities known as Adventure Sports.

The “Six Outdoor Pursuit Clubs” offered by Sussex include Water based sports, such as Surfing and Canoeing, as well as Mountain Biking, Climbing and Snow based activities. Of course, it doesn’t really matter what level of ability or experience you have in these particular sports- you’re in University after all, so there’s hardly a better opportunity to try something from scratch. However, it is needless to say that the greatest concern linked with these sports is safety.

Is it best for your health (as a fresher with an unhealthy imbalance of ego and over-confidence) to cycle down a mountain?

The irrefutable truth is that these Adventure Sports, by their nature, carry more physical dangers than most others. In their ‘pursuit’ for outdoor fun, health and safety are undoubtedly maintained as top priorities. Still, we human beings are susceptible to making mistakes. How costly such a mistake may be is down to that individual. Nonetheless, the risk of injury is clearly increased by the level of danger of the activity.

Yet, it would be ignorant to just assume Adventure Sports are too dangerous. Every sport is going to carry a certain degree of risk.

For example, I (being the Owen Hargreaves type) pulled a hamstring whilst participating in light training with the Athletics Club. I’ve bruised up my left hip from an Ultimate Frisbee taster session, not to mention the countless nights spent nursing a swollen ankle with frozen peas after playing 6-a-side football with my friends. Unless you run around a pitch in a plastic ball or layered with Styrofoam and bubble wrap head to toe, the potential for injury is always there.

Meanwhile, within these Adventure sports, you get the legendary actions of individuals such as Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, planning to leap from space. One might say he’s a crazy European free falling 23 miles above the Earth. However, if he succeeds, his name will be forever etched in history.

That is until someone else jumps from the Moon.

On the flip side, accidents still invariably occur, and in these extreme sports, they are often fatal. Very recently a man in his fifties was killed and another horrifically injured following a mid-air skydiving collision over Cambridgeshire.

It is not only Adventure sports though. There is American Football, for example. Even though it does not place players into the immediate danger offered by these Adventure sports, it is notorious for its hard-hitting, extreme, unadulterated and physical violence.

American Footballers wear substantial body armour under their jerseys for a reason. Whilst increasing your safety, these do not make you invincible, as annually it is estimated that out of 1.5 million young American Footballers in the USA, 1.2 million injure themselves. However, potentially “catastrophic” injuries have been all but eradicated due to significant rule changes. It is a sport played with safety in mind, albeit there’s always a little rough and tumble.

Is it worth it? If you’re passionate about any sport, no matter how dangerous, if you find it fascinating or inspiring, and can’t escape the thought of yourself trying it out, then surely the experience outweighs the risk. As long as you enjoy the sports responsibly, getting involved now during your time in University may be one of the most significant or memorable decisions of your life.

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