June 12, 2003

By Michael Strickland


This afternoon, I read the cover story of the latest Sports Illustrated, which details the tragic attempt by Audrey Mestre and Pipin Ferreras to set a new freediving world record last October. In a bid to descend to 561 feet without air, Mestre's lift bag failed to deploy, and she drowned before she was able to return to the surface.

Last night, I watched an ESPN program laced with a variety of crash footage from various races and competitions. In one clip, a motorcycle stuntman attempted to vault a row of parked cars and trucks, but fell way short of his mark. He survived, but lost a leg and broke nearly every bone in his body in the process.

Such stories are all too common. There seems to be a growing number of people obsessed with taking their sporting activities to the extreme, to the very brink of ruin. I don't understand this thrill of intentionally risking death. It seems ludicrous to voluntarily engage in a recreational activity that has a high probability of resulting in death. Granted, every time I get behind the wheel, a chance exists that I'll meet a fiery demise in a head-on collision. Or, whenever I board a plane, there is a small possibility that I'll get blasted into my component atoms if the plane nose-dives into the ground. But the chances are remote, and thus acceptable for the convenience of using modern transportation.

Straddling a motorcycle and launching oneself into the air at 100 miles per hour, however, seems absurd. Descending over 500 feet underwater with no air, just for the notoriety of holding some obscure world record, seems downright brainless. Sure, you might gain some fame and fortune—IF you're successful. But is it really worth it, when the alternative is DEATH? Apparently some people think so—which I guess is a good thing, since it helps keep the gene pool clean. But I just don't get it.

I enjoy thrills and adventure, but there is a bright line marked with a skull and crossbones beyond which I don't step. That's not to say I won't do anything without a net, but I'd like to think I exercise good judgment and prudence when it comes to thrill-seeking. Perhaps the difference is that my motivation is to have fun, not to stroke my ego. Whatever the case may be, there's just too much to do in this life to throw it all away for a fleeting rush of adrenaline and a boastful story to tell around the campfire.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

NEW: 'Froadin'!

I finally got around to posting a video clip from my off-roading excursion to Joshua Tree National Park. Broadband users (it's nearly 15 MB), check it out here.

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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June Columns:

6/30: Halfway There
6/27: 28 Days Later
6/26: I Am a Racist
6/24: America the Obese
6/23: Reality TV Sells
6/20: June Gloom
6/18: Hatch's Hollywood Hacking
6/16: Qualcomm Stadium
6/15: Happy Father's Day
6/14: Flag Day
6/13: Friday the 13th
6/12: Extreme
6/9: Spammed
6/8: Lack of PLANning
6/7: When Grass Attacks
6/4: Culture Shock
6/1: The Baja 500
Previous months in The Archive

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