Why surfing is the world's most non-lethal action sport…
Surfing gets built up as a lot of things. It's symbolic of freedom, it's communal with nature, it's man and beast suckling on the universal teat as if birthed in the same litter.
Surfing also gets played up as an act of defiance against the immutable laws of physics. Surf and you might… die.
And not just die in a crash, but die in the most profoundly terrifying way of all, asphyxiation. Being held underwater so long your last few millilitres of air are squeezed out of your body. Horrifying, right?!
But how dangerous is surfing, really? How many surfers die or are permanently incapacitated in the act? It's rare. It's so rare that when something does happen, it screams across newspapers across the world.
Compare it to any of the snow sports, skating, moto x or BMX and it's not even close to being dangerous.
This was brought home last night with a private viewing of "The Crash Reel", Lucy Walker's documentary that follows snowboarder Kevin Pearce's prep for the 2010 Olympic games, his radical injury in training and the fall-out from it.
Kevin, in case you didn't know, is a 26-year-old former king of the white Pipe whose career was ruined by a face plant. While he was training in a private half-pipe, Kevin caught a toe-edge after a cab double cork and… face planted.
Like nothing you've ever seen. No hands out. Boom. Face in the ice.
Brain damage. Now that's something you don't hear about in surfing. But snowboarding, skiing, flipping snowmobiles for kicks, moto x or BMX? There's an epidemic of athletes being killed or losing their most vital functions.
I was watching the film and thinking, surfing, for all its extreme sport claims, is the safest of all the games. Even at Pipe, with careers on the line, the worst injuries are, typically, a popped shoulder, a bit of an ear bleed or a cut-up arm.
Go to the snow or the track and it's carnage.
What do I recommend? Surfing. You'll do it forever.