If you’re a Crossfit enthusiast (or critic), by now you’ve probably heard of the man who was paralyzed last weekend after bailing on a snatch when the bar bounced back up and hit him in the spine in Southern California.
Oddly, I read this news immediately after an article in Outside about the man who died on the Walk the Plank obstacle in Tough Mudder.
It’s easy to see how tragedies like this could happen in both instances. Both sports have the potential for serious injury. Any Crossfit or OCR athlete that claims any different is just plain wrong. There are risks involved. Sometimes serious risks.
OCR is built on challenge. That’s why it’s fun. I remember wondering how it could possibly be legal after my first event. And being very glad that it was.
Crossfit is comprised of high velocity, intense movements, under load and while fatigued. That’s just not always safe. Any doubters should Youtube it and get a bucket.
Really, if you look at the statistics, it’s unbelievable that more people don’t get gravely wounded or killed.
In both cases, more could certainly have been done. We were under prepared. Both sports are far too new. I don’t even want touch the Tough Mudder situation… and there were no medical professionals on hand at the South Cal Crossfit competition. But even if there were first aiders, the outcome would have been the same. The bar had already made contact. This guy knew how to safely pitch the bar, he was trained, he knows the sport and his body – and this still happened. Freak accidents still happen.
We never add up how many lives were saved due to the avoidance of preventable lifestyle diseases. And you’re still more likely to die in a triathlon than doing Crossfit or an obstacle course race. Ryan Shay died running a 5k race, and he was one of the fittest people on the planet. Freak accidents happen. It’s horrible and it makes me want to curl up with some Hagen Daz and The Notebook and gain 100lbs to protect me from ever dying in any fitness related endeavour. But that’s just paralyzation by choice.
But what both of these sports have taught us is that staying “safe” is not living. I love tossing heavy weights around and plunging into ice water. Only when facing challenges are we really alive. I’d rather carry a sandbag up a mountain than “climb” a virtual set of stairs on “mountain climb” mode, even though my choice obviously is riskier and harder.
There are risks. Life is risky. But the bigger risk is doing nothing, only to hit your death bed obese, diabetic and bored.
For the record, I hate to talk about how statistically safe these sports are. The affected people and their families are not statistics. They are people that this just should not have happened to.