Caleb Moore, a freestyle snowmobile rider, passed away last Thursday after complications following a crash at ESPN’s Winter X Games.
Moore, 25, was attempting a back flip on his snowmobile when he crashed. The 450-pound snowmobile caught the front of the landing area and sent Moore flying over his handlebars. As Moore landed face first on the snow, his snowmobile landed on top of him.
Moored laid on the ground for quite sometime before being taken to a nearby Aspen, Colorado hospital to be treated for a concussion. He developed bleeding around his heart and had to be airlifted to Grand Junction, Colorado to undergo surgery. Following a complication with his brain, the Texas native passed away.
“As a result of this accident, we will conduct a thorough review of this discipline and adopt any appropriate changes to future X Games,” said ESPN in a statement following the news of Moore’s death.
But Moore’s death was not the only serious injury at the X Games this year. Rose Battersby and Ashley Battersby, no relation, both suffered falls in warm-up runs for the Women’s Ski Slopestyle Final. Rose Battersby suffered a lumbar spinal fracture, and although she could feel all extremities, she needed to be airlifted to Denver. Ashley Battersby suffered a leg injury.
ESPN’s statement about reviewing the events and their safety was indeed genuine. ESPN officials even attended Moore’s funeral. The only problem is that while ESPN may indeed review the safety of events, the real review of safety needs to come from the athletes themselves.
The culture that surrounds the X Games is one that praises creativity and innovation when learning how to push the limits of what is possible. The need to go bigger, higher, and faster in whatever discipline they participate in are principles that these athletes thrive on.
Athletes like Tony Hawk and Shaun White are athletes made famous by the X Games. Hawk revolutionized skateboarding when he landed a 900 in skateboard half-pipe in 1999. He went on to have a very successful video game franchise named after him. White burst on the scene as a 20-year-old when he won Half Pipe Gold at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics. He now has his own clothing line, video games, snowboard line, and has even appeared in movies.
Many of these athletes strive to be the next Tony Hawk or Shaun White. They strive to transcend the sport and turn their profession into multi-million-dollar franchises. The only way they will do this is to continue to push their physical limits to give their respective sports something they have never seen before.
So while ESPN may try and evaluate what needs to be done to make the X Games safer, the real policing will have to come from the athletes themselves. The athletes will have to learn that in ever-evolving sports, there are limits to what the human body is capable of, and more importantly, capable of withstanding.