The biggest news of the week has to be the Valentino Rossi enduro crash story and it’s sparked a bit of a debate between the Motofire team, which extended from motorcycle racers to all top flight sportsmen and women.
The problem with anyone who is naturally competitive is that they want to compete and that desire goes beyond their professional sport. Athletes also need to keep fit; they enjoy various sports. If you look at MotoGP riders, International Road Racers, and F1 drivers, it is no wonder that they crave sports that push them to their limits and give them an adrenaline kick. It comes as no surprise that many choose climbing, skiing, mountain biking and motocross. Unlike many of us though, they will push themselves to the edge, even when they are having ‘down time.’
Micheal Schumacher’s accident whilst skiing, Max Biaggi suffered a horrible injury whilst training, Nicky Hayden tragically died in a cycling accident. The list of sporting legends who died off the track doing other sports is sadly quite long, and while we can all accept the risk of death is a part of their profession, it is harder to swallow when our sporting heroes are seriously injured doing something that should be safe.
Valentino Rossi was training with children for his academy. The VR46 Riders Academy will become part of his legacy. A fabulous opportunity for young talent, who look to Rossi as their inspiration. However, the debate we are having in the office is should professional racers be allowed to take on these challenges while competing for the championship that gives them the lifestyle they have.
It’s a difficult subject to talk about because, yes, professional riders, racers, and other athletes should be allowed to spend their personal time however they like. The issue is, in situations such as Valentino Rossi, that should something happen there is more than one person affected. Would it not be sensible to impose some limitations on them during the season? With Rossi now out for the rest of 2017 MotoGP, a team has lost. Perhaps it would have been more productive and less risky for him to take on extra curricular sport outside of the season, especially as he is very competitive.
Of course, the flip side of this is that tragic accidents happen every single day. Life is fluid; it changes in the blink of an eye. Schumacher wasn’t taking any irregular risks during his accident, Rossi was taking a mentoring role, not a competitive role, Hayden was training on a bicycle. Lewis Hamilton is a huge fan of water sports; often he can be seen on a jet bike, throttle open, enjoying himself. There are risks involved with anything that has outside factors. So unless we expect riders to sit in a padded room for the whole season, it is just part of the risk. Is it a measured risk though?
Even The Miracle Man, Ian Hutchinson, has suffered an injury outside of the sport itself. In 2012 he re-broke his leg at a rehearsal show for MCN. This set his recovery back and could have potentially ended his career. Questions flew around back then, should he have been allowed to take part in the show while his leg was still healing?
Unfortunately, human beings are head strong and hungry for life. We take chances, and we push ourselves. But should we take these chances when fans, a team, and sponsors are all part of our journey?
Perhaps we have to accept these accidents are just part of the highs and lows of a career in top flight sports. We’d be interested to know what you think; It’s a great debate!