If you haven't already heard, 11-year-old Jagger Eaton will be competing in the 2012 X-Games in Los Angeles, California.
Just when I thought I had seen everything, a child has been given permission by his legal guardians to compete in the Big Air event on Friday.
I saw some videos of this kid, and I can say that the things he does on a skateboard are infinitely more complex than the things I could do, and I'm very impressed. But then again, he could ride the board down the street and be light years ahead of me.
His skill level isn't what I'm worried about. What does concern me is the fact that an 11-year-old child will be competing in an event where he could sustain serious, excruciating bodily harm.
I'm not one to tell a person how to raise their child, but wouldn't a parent's worst nightmare be to watch their child fly 84 feet down a ramp, soar over a 55-foot gap, then launch himself 15-20 feet into the air off of a 27-foot quarter pipe?
That's what Big Air is.
This isn't meant as a knock on Eaton, because I genuinely think that what he is set to do on July 1 is something amazing. But what happens if this kid, this young, frail child, makes one slight miscalculation?
Here's what could happen.
Back in 2007, Jake Brown narrowly and inexplicably escaped grave injuries when he was separated from his skateboard and fell 40-plus feet to the flat part of the ramp in front of the quarter pipe. We all watched as he went kicking and flailing towards the ground with nothing to brace his fall but a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads.
We watched him hit the ground so violently that his shoes flew off and his body folded in a way that only that kind of impact could cause.
He laid at the bottom of the ramp for nearly 10 minutes before he was able to get up. I cannot comprehend how Brown was able to walk away from that stunning fall under his own power, but thank goodness that he did.
Brown, who was 32 years old at the time, suffered only a ruptured spleen, fractured wrist, bruised lung and liver, whiplash and a concussion. I say "only" simply because it looked like it was going to be much worse, and it probably should have been.
If those injuries happened to a grown man, imagine what is going to happen to an 11-year-old kid if that same fate befalls him.
I would prefer not to.
If he is injured in any way, shape or form during the Big Air event, people all over the country are going to be up in arms about his inclusion in the competition.
Here is an excerpt from a Tucson Citizen article that touches on Eaton's 13-year-old brother, Jett, and the serious injury that he sustained on the Mega Ramp:
His father said Jett was trying to land a 900—that’s a two-and-a-half-revolution aerial spin—and after 13 attempts they decided to end the session, but Jett wanted one more shot.
A mishap before the takeoff ramp caused him to be catapulted into the ramp at a speed between 40 and 50 mph.
The crash left Jett unconscious; he hit the ramp so hard his forehead went through his helmet padding into the plastic shell.
“Scariest time of my life; I mean frightening,” said Eaton, whose son spent four days in a Fresno hospital.
That happened only three weeks ago.
His father said it was the "scariest time of my life." Wouldn't an accident as frightening as that make a father second-guess letting his other son enter a competition such as this?
Again, I don't want to offend anyone or tell them how to raise their child, but this situation must be looked at rationally.
It's scary enough watching a kid fall when he's running, let alone watching him catapult himself through the air towards a ramp that looks like it was conjured up by some skateboarding mad scientist.
I'm not worried about Eaton's talent, or his ability to cope with a stage as big as the X-Games.
What I am worried about is Newton's law of universal gravitation.
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