|Caleb Moore's fearless attitude should|
be celebrated, not criticized.
Snowmobile freestyling is one of the more extreme sports in all of the X Games, as it involves the jumping and flipping of the 450-pound sleds on which the competitors ride. Sadly, severe injury or death is a scary inevitability in an event of this nature. However, there are critics who are quick to call for the end of such events. To those people, I request that they either get a better understanding of the sport about which they're talking or they talk about something else.
Most noticeably, in Google-searching the story of Moore's death earlier today, I saw a Washington Post article titled "When is Enough Enough?" To put it simply, the title was enough for me to read no more.
I lost a lot of respect for this newspaper when one of its sports writers decided to take a one-sided angle in dissecting the actions of the Boston Bruins vs. the city's Capitals in last April's NHL playoffs. That article only examined one team's actions and completely undermined the fantastic, seven-games series that those two teams played. I could only assume that if the writer of the Caleb Moore story shot par-for-the-course at the Washington Post that it would be a similarly out-of-context rant from someone that knew less about the topic than they should.
Extreme sports are just that. Extreme.
They're extremely thrilling. Extremely fearless. And, yes, extremely dangerous.
I remember sitting in a Boston hotel room on New Year's Eve of 2009 when the Sports Center ticker scrolled across that snowboarder Kevin Pearce was severely injured in an accident while practicing for the upcoming X Games. The story was close to me because Pearce and I had attended high school together and shared the same varsity soccer backfield in 2004.
Thankfully, unlike the case with Moore, Pearce survived his head injury and has since gotten back on a snowboard, albeit his competitive career is over.
Pearce and his older brothers loved to snowboard. That's what they did. In high school, Pearce used to head off to snowboarding academy in the winters to perfect his craft.
In the 2009 Winter X-Games, he put down the best run in Super Pipe. He knew it, the ESPN broadcasters knew it, even gold medalist Shaun White knew it. Only some corrupt judges that gave White the top score on the evening seemed to have missed it.
Kevin Pearce's run
Shaun White's "gold medal" run starts at 3:30
To this day, I still consider Pearce's run that night as one of the biggest and cleanest Super Pipe runs I've ever seen. He was poised to take his rightful spot above White the following winter before he suffered the injury.
As I said, Pearce was one of the lucky ones. Last January, freestyle skier Sarah Burke fell on the exact same halfpipe on which Pearce suffered his injury and later passed away due to a traumatic brain injury. Today, the news of Moore's death marks the second notable death of an extreme sports superstar in just over a year.
Those that don't understand this style of sport are calling for its demise. They are wrong in doing so.
The high-flying thrills of extreme sports are the basis of the activity. Extreme sports athletes know the inherent risks involved in their sport. In fact, it's defying those risks that define their success. Not only do they accept the danger of their sport, they live for the danger of it.
Moore died doing what he loved. He got up every day and lived the dream of extreme sports. He knew the risks, and he accepted them. In fact, like every great athlete in his industry, he looked those risks in the eyes and challenged them head on.
Sadly, those risks defeated Caleb Moore today. His body wasn't able to overcome the injuries suffered in the crash on Jan. 24, but that doesn't mean our society should tarnish the activity he loved so much.
"He lived his life to the fullest," family spokeswoman Chelsea Lawson said about his death. "He was an inspiration."
I'd be willing to bet that if he were alive, he'd tell us that he'd get back up on that snowmobile without hesitation and do the run again. He'd probably, jokingly, point out that this time he'd land his flip. His sport is about showing no fear in the face of danger, and while Moore died of the dangers, he never feared them.
He was the first competitor in the 18-year history of the X Games to pass away during competition. When considering all the fast and high-flying events that have taken place over the years, the death seems to be an anamoly, and not an epidemic.
Extreme sports athletes should be lauded for their fearless competitive spirit, not chastised for behaving in the reckless manner that defines their sport. Moore should be remembered for that spirit, as it was that fearlessness that made him the person that he was.
Rest in peace, Caleb. You were a great athlete and a brave man.