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Swimmer Fran Crippen's Death the Latest Sports Tragedy

Fran Crippen

On Saturday, a 26 year-old member of the US national swim team lost his life during the FINA Open Water 10-kilometer World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Fran Crippen, a native of a Philadelphia suburb, failed to finish the race and was found dead in the water nearly two hours after the race had ended.

It has been speculated that water temperature may have been a factor. The magazine Swimming World reported it to be in the mid to high 80s, four degrees higher than deemed acceptable in a pool. The magazine also reported that several swimmers were treated for heat exhaustion after the race.

Regardless of the details, one fact remains. The Fran Crippen tragedy is only the latest in a recent outbreak within the sporting world. Two Saturdays ago, Rutger’s football player Eric Legrand was paralyzed from the neck down in the fourth quarter while making a tackle during a kickoff return. The week before that, TJ Lavin, a BMX legend, as well as the popular host of the MTV show Challenge, suffered a gruesome crash during what was to be his very last BMX event ever. Both instances have many parents scratching their heads, wondering whether or not some sports are simply too dangerous for their kids to play. We’ve asked that very question here at Strollerderby, as has our Babble colleague Katie Allison Granju in her blog Home/Work.

We’ve asked it, alright. But we haven’t really answered it — at least not definitively. So today, I thought I’d give you my take.

While these tragedies make my heart ache to its very core, they do not, in any way shape or form deter me from the following unspoken commitment I’ve made to my children. All four of them are free to participate in any legitimate sport he or she so chooses and in so doing, will have 100% of my support. And while I am greatly saddened by what happened this past weekend, and while I hope swimming officials will leave no stone unturned in deciphering exactly what went wrong, I would no sooner let Crippen’s story preclude my kids from the swimming pool than I would let the story of an automobile accident preclude my kids from the car.

Life is dangerous. There are no guarantees. It’s just part of the deal. But once you start letting the potential for bad things steer you away from good ones, you are no longer living life as effectively as you could or should be. At least that’s what I think.

Photo: AP

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