Monday, July 12, 2010

Death of a Rider: A mother's nightmare

The tragic death of well known and liked artist and competitive longboarder, Glenna Evans, has shaken the local longboarding community, and stirred public debate.

As a mother of junior racer, Wolfgang Coleman, I took the news the way mothers do, poorly.  I didn't know who it was when the news first broke and imagined all the beautiful faces of the female riders that I know or have met through Wolf, and then thought of her mother, and my heart cracked.  It doesn't matter that she was no longer a child, she was still her mother and father's daughter.  Their pain must be great.

This sad loss has made me reconsider my stand on this very fast sport and my complicity with Wolf's participation.  My first reaction was, never again; I must protect my boy.  Luckily that lasted for mere seconds.  My longer feeling was a quiet prayer to never know such loss myself.

How many people find a true passion in their lives, something that brings them joy beyond textual description?  How many young people find purpose and challenge in what they do? How many are able to compete at an international level?  How many find community in the physical face-to-face type that extends beyond any virtual network, friends to high-five, to trade trucks, to swap road-rash tales?

Some sports are riskier than others, but consider life-altering knee injuries from basketball and soccer, the bends and death in sea-diving, paralysis and death in horse-back riding, in snow-boarding, in skiing, in motor-cross riding, in mountain biking?  How about rodeo sports in general? If we look at the negative and very dangerous effects of lack of sport and passion in one's life, perhaps it outweighs any inherent risk?  I don't know; I'm just putting it out there.  Not everyone can be passionate about badminton, or table tennis, or golf... but golf has it's heart-failure risks apparently, but that may have something to do with the age and health of some of the players.

I also don't want to see a short-sighted public knee-jerk reaction with any sort of a ban on skateboarding.  This would be a step backwards.  Should we try to avoid death by closing hospitals, because it is in their walls where most deaths occur?  You get my point.  Riding usually results in fit, well transported and happy people.  And these are good things.

I will not take my son out of the sport.  But I will continue to insist on safe riding and safe training, and that means in a group, all the time.  Like in diving, and swimming, and sailing (usually) 'buddies stick together'.  We've adopted that diving rule and applied it many areas of our lives, and here is just one more.

In a few short days Wolf and I will be jetting to the French Alps for him to race in IGSA's Graveyard Call, and then to take in the cultural scene in Paris before coming home.  The race goes on, but I do know that Glenna Evans will be remembered as she has touched the lives of many with both her life and her death.  Rest in Peace Glenna, though I never knew you.

links: igsa's memorial page
Glenna's page

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