I checked. Itís been two years since my sonís head, after a blown skateboarding trick, went one-on-one with some particularly hard concrete.
The aftermath of that fall included one stomach churning phone call from the hospital, a rush to the emergency room, x-rays, stitches, and one really good lecture.
Since he hadnít been wearing the helmet Iíd bought him, I contributed the lecture. I figured it was the least I could do.
I explained to him in short sentences, small words, and a very harsh tone that our brains are not designed for bouncing off of hard things. Bang them around and a whole lot of stuff can disappear Ė memory, coordination, breathing, and the ability to ever understand the infield fly rule to name just a few.
Thatís why the Good Lord created helmets. Now, thanks to His benevolence and foresight, whenever we take up a sport wherein our heads might meet up with hard objects, weíre also able to buy something capable of absorbing the energy that might otherwise scramble our brains.
My sonís most recent attempt to turn the rest of my hair gray is rock climbing. To his credit, however, heís already figured out that rock climbing subjects you to all of the vagaries of gravity including falls. As many of us who string Christmas lights already know, falls are exhilarating. Itís the sudden stop at the end that hurts.
In rock climbing, even if youíre tied off and only fall a little bit, you still tend to hit things that are hard. Additionally, until youíre standing atop whatever youíre climbing, there are always rocks above you. Rocks are subject to Murphyís Law of Selective Gravitation which states that any falling object will always strike where it can do the most damage to anyone nearby. Thus, while climbing, a rock that falls from anywhere above you will, generally, hit you directly in the head.
Because of all of the above, my son is buying a helmet. And that brings us to todayís column.
Last week, Pittsburgh Steelersí quarterback Ben Roethlisberger - a motorcycle rider - was involved in an accident.
Motorcycle riding is, for many, a great sport. For others (and I count myself squarely in this group), itís just a bit outside of our comfort zone. I swore off of motorcycles after a good friend of mine had one of his legs end up better than an inch shorter than his other leg.
This happened because, one day, while riding down a street in New Orleans, someone opened the door of a parked car directly into his path. He doesnít remember the crash. We both remember that his leg was in a cast for a long time after the accident. Too, heíll walk with a limp forever.
My friend, however, suffered no serious head injuries because he was wearing a helmet. Ben Roethlisberger was not. The Laws of Motion being what they are, Mr. Roethlisberger ended up flying over his handlebars and into the carís windshield. He suffered a broken upper and lower jaw, the loss of several teeth, a broken nose, broken facial bones, and numerous cuts and bruises. That he did not suffer brain damage, become paralyzed, lose a limb, or die is what is known in medical circles as pure, dumb luck.
I donít like laws telling me how to do everything this side of wiping my nose. I know that helmets reduce injuries and save lives. As a (nearly) normal and (at times) rational human being, Iíve already figured out that, in the ongoing battle between cars and motorcycles, thereís not a chance in hell that a motorcycle is ever going to win.
Too, weíve long since lost the battle for most driversí attention. Daily, I give thanks for my being firmly ensconced in a rather large pickup whenever Iím out trying to avoid those who actually think they can drive while yakking on the phone, text messaging, looking at pictures, applying makeup, or whatever.
For these and a hundred other reasons, I think itís already apparent to motorcyclists everywhere that they should be wearing every bit of protection Ė helmets particularly Ė they can afford. That way, when they find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly transformed into a ballistic missile, theyíll have some chance of reducing the degree of hurt theyíre about to experience.
If all of the above isnít enough of an argument for helmets, though, hereís a closing thought.
Ben Roethlisberger wears one while, basically, playing a game.
With that in mind, wouldnít it be a good idea to do the same while riding a motorcycle?