The Spectator recently featured an article about the dangers of tobogganing:
Hamilton paramedics have responded to six calls for tobogganing-related injuries in the last few weeks.
Most of these calls, said Hamilton EMS paramedic supervisor Mike Merko, were fractured limbs, with one head injury. Most of the injuries were sustained on golf and country club grounds.
Three women, ages 18 to 24, were taken to hospital Jan. 29 after their toboggan crashed into a tree at the Kings Forest Golf Club. One woman had serious head injuries.
Apparently (I did not know this) it's against the law to toboggan in city parks. Although no one has been ticketed this year, the City has posted signs in 19 parks indicating that tobogganing is banned. People who toboggan could be liable for a $105 fine.
If the ban on tobogganing is just to give the City a chance to avoid liability, and staff don't really intend on ever ticketing anyone, then fine. But if they plan on enforcing it (and what's the point in having bylaws that are never enforced?), then it's wrong-headed.
Of course tobogganing is a little bit dangerous. Most outdoor activities that are fun are, in fact, dangerous. Snowboarding, water-skiing, cycling, swimming, rock-climbing and playing hockey are all more dangerous than sitting on your couch watching television.
Or are they? Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Canada, accounting for some 30% of all deaths in Canada (69,000 in 2006). Along with heart disease, the risk of diabetes, certain types of cancer, and other lifestyle diseases is greatly elevated by poor diet and inactivity.
So although there is no possible way you can crash into a tree when you're sitting on a couch watching television and eating potato chips, if you make a habit of it, you can look forward to a shortened lifespan and chronic disease.
Rather than discouraging people from tobogganing by posting signs and warning about potential fines, I think we need to encourage people to toboggan, and skate, and ski, and snowboard, even though all of these activities carry some risk.
It's especially important for kids to do this stuff, because we live in Canada, and the winters are long here. Instilling a love of winter sports in children means they may grow up to be people who love winter and who are active in winter - and if you want to be a happy, healthy Canadian it helps if you enjoy the six months of cold weather we experience each year.
Still worried about the risk of injury? Wear a helmet.
See you on the hill!
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