Extreme Sports Injuries Compilation Presents the Dark Side of Vibrant Sport

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterDecember 20, 2013

They leap huge ramps in a single bound, fly across half-pipes with grace and invoke awes from the crowd as they test the bounds of human athleticism. 

Unfortunately, none of them are Superman.  

SportsGrid's Jake O'Donnell spots a captivating and rather important video in the form of this snippet from the documentary The Crash Reel, in theaters now

The video begins with a group of extreme sports veterans chronicling some amazing anecdotes of their injuries as painful highlights play out for the audience. 

You have our attention. 

Shaun White, a man who makes snowboarding look so effortless, chimes in with, "I've hit my head plenty of times. It trips me out. For me, I've had maybe nine concussions. I've had plenty of crashes where I've cracked helmets. I would've been dead if it wasn't for my helmet."

Adam Taylor explains how bad constant trauma can be. He's had six head injuries and states he is bipolar, depressed and suffers memory loss. He continues, "We don't have any kind of athlete insurance. Pretty much any other sport besides action sports get the treatment they need."

That leads to a brief discussion of Stephen Murray, a BMX rider who was left paralyzed after a crash in 2007. In the video, Murray states that fans want to see the crashes, because, as he puts it, "That's what the crowd loves."

The most obvious connection is to the NFL and the ongoing revelation that a visibly dangerous sport features some dangers that are hidden by every knock to the head and blow to the body. 

One of the most sinister dangers, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, was chronicled in the recent documentary League of Denial, illustrating the effects a career as a professional football player can have. 

Those maladies aren't relegated to the NFL, because CNN's Stephanie Smith and Dan Moriarty recently reported former Cincinnati Reds player Ryan Freel was diagnosed with CTE after committing suicide. 

The NFL continues to champion its effort to make the game safer with programs like the Heads Up initiative, and MLB is taking steps in the form of banning collisions (which still needs MLBPA approval) and providing pitchers with optional protective headgear, according to a recent Brandon McCarthy interview

Of course, as is mentioned in the video, extreme athletes are left to their own devices. There isn't exactly an official group looking out for those who meet tragic ends. 

As we have seen in other sports, safety for the athletes becomes far more important. The difference, as was echoed in the video, is there isn't really a collective designated to investigate extreme athletes and the repercussions of their injuries. It's doubtful when or if that will change. 

In the mean time, appreciate every amazing trick, but remember that there are more than a few mishaps behind the scenes. 

Huge air and big tricks, it seems, don't come cheap. 


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