Winter Sports and Gravity
This past week the son of our Maritime Morning talk show host, Jordi Morgan, had a run in with a tree while enjoying what is arguably Canada’s most popular winter sport, sledding. And the while his injuries, a fractured skull and concussion, are serious, they could have been much, much worse.
We are exhorted time and again to make the most of winter, to exercise and to get out and enjoy the season. And sledding down our many, many hills is the quintessential, time honoured way of making the most of a season that has many us running to warmer climes to sip Mai Tais and bask on southern beaches.
This could, in many senses, be called the era of the concussion. The melding of technology into sport and recreation has changed the way we look at how we entertain ourselves. After Jordi’s boy had his accident, I spent some time pondering how it was that most my survived into adulthood. Me and my friends, if anything, spent more time outdoors participating in all the sports and pleasures that were available, than do today’s current crop of youngsters. After all we didn’t have the 500 channel TV universe, the internet, games and movies and all the other cyber delights to keep us indoors and glued to a video screen.
But, and this is anecdotally, we also didn’t have the the same injuries that I see all around us. So what gives? Why would this be? A simple look at the differences in technologies and how we implement them and in many ways inflict them on our young in the name of profit should give us pause. Roll up plastic sheets that are as thin as boxboard and are ever so slippery on snow and ice, have replaced the venerable sled and toboggan of my era, are as common as mittens on the slopes on which our youngsters slide. Plastic is ultra cheap, easily manufactured and sold in the millions. Another case of just because we can we do, especially when it comes to marketing to kids. This super fast slider is unsteerable, has an incredibly low co-efficient of friction and offers zero protection to its user. Every bump and lump is transmitted to the rider and if it should strike anything solid, the occupant is the one who suffers. In comparison, a toboggan is a slow caterpillar and the epitome of handling with solid protection.
Even the traditional sled is a tortoise in comparison. With a plastic sheet masquerading as a toy a child can rocket down a slope in excess of 70 kmh head first with one of these super sliders. And that is how they are marketed, fast, cheap and fun.
Our children’s noggins house everything they are and ever will be. Why we should even for a second put our most precious commodity at risk is beyond me. Parents who always buckle up their offspring in cars, get the latest and greatest of sports paraphernalia to protect the kids should take a second look at the risks of snow and gravity coupled with plastic sheets. Yes speed is fun, but also yes, it can also kill.
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