Fabrizio Meoni was killed a few days ago while participating in the Dakar rally. Although I do not follow that particular sport, he was evidently a very well known and successful competitor. There was talk for a while of teams pulling out as a result and some companies getting out of the sport. Now, wait just a minute. No one likes to see anyone hurt or injured while participating in any sport but one of the reasons top competitors are respected as they are is their ability to do something many of us cannot or will not. When someone dies, it drives the point home forcefully. A top competitor in table tennis may be very skilled but no danger is inherent in the sport. Racing puts you out there where things can go wrong and if you choose to participate you accept the danger and that’s that.
Last week at the Daytona tire tests racers were getting a handle on a very intimidating track where even the best can crash. It happens. No one should complain or be shocked. Willing participants have made the decision and you race with that understanding.
Some years ago, I did some skydiving. After about a hundred jumps I hung it up. I had one minor fracture of my wrist due to stupidity but overall it was enjoyable and injury free. But it was risky and no one ever said otherwise and people do get killed. If it was completely safe and without risk, it wouldn’t be exciting or worthwhile. You never think you’ll be the one hurt but you might be. Accept it or don’t participate.
That goes, too, for the sponsors and companies that field teams in any sport like these. Bad things can happen. It does no one any good to pull out and stop competing. When the race is over, show your respects, evaluate what happened to see if it can be prevented next time, but don’t pull out. Did they think there couldn’t be any accidents? Many of the best things in life are inherently risky. You pursue the payoff and accept the risk. Just like in business,… no risk, little reward.
Maybe I’m overreacting to this but too many people are unwilling to accept any risk in life. They want absolute safety, guaranteed results and if anything doesn’t go right, they get a lawyer. A long time ago, Peter Egan wrote a column in Cycle World or Road and Track, can’t remember which, that envisioned a “red card” that you had to have before being allowed to participate in anything dangerous. You agreed to accept the risk and not sue everyone for unforseen results or you didn’t get to play. I like that idea. Maybe it’s time to bring it up again.