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Just a Guy Wearing a Helmet

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I may look somewhat nerdy on the ski slopes, but hey, I am setting an example for YOUR kids.

family skiing

Bruce Sallan: I went skiing this winter break and had a wonderful time. However, I couldn't get over the hypocrisy I often witnessed with parents and their kids. For every parent I saw wearing a helmet and skiing or boarding with their kids, I saw another not wearing a helmet, demonstrating the classic case of "Do what I say, not what I do."

This made me CRAZY. I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I've been wearing a helmet for years. Like seat belts, it is truly going to be ubiquitous some day but, for now, it's an optional accessory to many skiers and snowboarders. Excuse me!? How many people need to get paralyzed or killed before the average parent "gets it"?

And why do we all wear seat belts? Forget the law -- I suggest most people wear their seat belts because they know there's that drunk driver that could hit them. If you've ever been to a crowded ski resort with skiers and snowboarders, it's not much different. The number of accidents is high; the number of out-of-control participants is omnipresent. Why would you ever take a chance? And, why in hell would you not be the example for your kids?

Obviously, this sort of hypocrisy applies to the smoking parent telling his or her child that they shouldn't smoke, or that they shouldn't do drugs, while downing their martinis or getting high on a regular basis. Truly, we are the models of the behavior we want from our children. And they don't miss much. So, if you ski or board, WEAR A HELMET! But, I'm doing it again, being just a guy.

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35 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sara January 6, 2010, 4:37 AM

It depends on what kind of skiing or snowboarding you’re doing as to weather or not you really need a helmet. Simple ski runs don’t put you at risk for head injury like kids who are jumping and doing crazy tricks or snowboarding difficult terrain.

Bruce Sallan January 6, 2010, 6:55 AM

Sara - NO NO NO. The risk to get hit is ALWAYS there by someone out-of-control! With the mix of skiers AND boarders, it is combustible situation, especially at crowded times. Would you not wear a seat-belt when driving on quiet roads, or early in the morning when the road are emptier? Please, Sara (and any other that think this way), you’re only emphasizing why I get so “crazy” about this. It’s not YOU I’m worried about…or, to be more precise, it is YOU I’m worried about when I ski. It is that other person who may hit me!

Wendi January 6, 2010, 9:29 AM

Bruce, good job telling how it is. I totally agree with you. Accidents can happen at any time and to be just a bit more prepared for them is a very good thing. We don’t ski or board, but if we did you better believe that we would wear them.

Sara January 6, 2010, 2:10 PM

If you’re hit skiing by someone that’s out of control you’re going to break a leg, you’re not going to hit your head. It’s not like driving or riding a bike at all because of your distance from the ground. It’s more like being on a soccer field and facing the risk of being body checked.

The head risk is with a tree or if you’re flying through the air. Neither of which you’re doing if you’re on the bunny slope.

BRuce Sallan January 6, 2010, 3:55 PM

Sara - then how do you explain the death of Natasha Richardson - on the bunny slope supposedly with a helmet! You’re being naive, but it’s a free country. I woke up in a gurney, from a ski accident, also with a helmet and the neurologist said if I didn’t have the helmet I’d be dead or worse. Why are we debating this? Do you want to be right and, G*d forbid, dead? Like the person in the crosswalk that is run over by a distracted texting or talking on the phone driver. You’re right but you’re DEAD!

Working Mama January 6, 2010, 4:02 PM

Sara- have you heard of Natasha Richardson, the actress who died last year after hitting her head skiing down a bunny slope? She wasn’t wearing a helmet.

Jeff January 6, 2010, 4:36 PM

I think Bruce’s main point in the piece is how important it is for parents to model the behavior they want to see in their kids. I had the idea that when I asked either of my boys to help around the house, it was really their obligation to do so, and it wasn’t really a request, it was an order. So I thought asking was enough, until my wife pointed out how I needed to say “please” EVERY time I asked them. Saying “please” didn’t seem necessary to me, since there wasn’t an option for them to say no, and children should learn to obey their parents, especially when it comes to the minimal number of chores they’re asked to do in my house. But my wife was right. How could I expect my kids to always say please if I didn’t? So if you want your kids to wear a helmet, or say please, or wear a seat belt, the example we set as parents is MUCH more important than what we say to them about it. I can’t imagine anyone disagreeing with this!

Emma January 7, 2010, 12:03 PM

Or set an example yelling at your spouse? Wonder how much of that gets passed down through generations.

Aaron Sallan January 9, 2010, 2:30 PM

Yes dad. Its great that you have me wear a helmet all the time. Better to be safe then sorry! Thanks so much

David January 21, 2010, 11:13 AM

I used to be an AVID skier in high school and college, and then, for a number of reasons, stopped skiing my last year or so of college in the mid-1970s. I did take up cross-country skiing when I lived in Colorado in the ’80s-’90s, but even then, never resurrected my original love of downhill skiing. So … back in the day, I remember ONLY kids wore helmets, and even that was rare. So I’m from an era in which the idea of an ADULT wearing a helmet to ski was just unthinkable … hypercautious, nerdy, you name it. But I think Bruce is making a FANTASTIC AND ACCURATE argument. If I were to downhill-ski tomorrow, I won’t PROMISE that I would wear a helmet, but I would absolutely reflect seriously on Bruce’s suggestion to wear a helmet for all the reasons he gives; and maybe I ultimately WOULD don a helmet to ski. Bruce correctly has called attention to the delicate balance between doing what feels good to you by not wearing a helmet, versus doing what you would want your kids to do, which is to wear the helmet. I took up rock-climing in 1980 and I have never NOT worn a helmet rock-climbing … yet back in the day, old-timers looked down their noses at that. I really enjoyed this blog post by Bruce.

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