Tuesday, March 02, 2004


After waiting in the cold for about half an hour, a couple friends and I were let into the Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver, BC) for the Crystal Method (great show, by the way). After getting my copy of "Legion of Boom" stamped to gain green room access after the show, I then went to get hearing protection, as part of my job (and just about every day life) requires that my ears don't constantly ring.

Getting to the coat check area, I ask the girl behind the counter if she has any hearing protection. Ironically, she doesn't hear me the first time. I am quick to point this out.

That brings me to today's topic, wussing out and getting protection for a variety of applications (ie: sports, entertainment, sex). This time, I am not harassed for wearing any sort of hearing protection (in fact, one guy says, "Hey, good idea"), but in other situations, people do give a hard time and I could never figure out why.

At my dayjob selling consumer electronics, we have skateboarding videos running all day. Watching some of these videos shows the amazing skill of some of these skaters and on occasion, you do see the occasional spill. If some of the sponsored professionals take spills on occasion, I can only imagine what kind of permanent injury DIDN'T make the video.

I asked one guy who is an avid skater (who, interestingly enough, has the last name "Thrasher", of all things, which just happens to be the name of a skateboard magazine) about why most skaters don't wear any sort of gear or protection. The reply had something to do with the fact that extreme skaters that are featured on the ESPN X-Games usually wear gear while street skaters don't. He then went on to say that those on the X-Games are typically regarded as sell-outs. I think skateboarding legend Tony Hawk is included in this category.

While the aspect of selling out has more to do with the fact that skateboarding has a more underground appeal due to its grassroots origins and the commercialization of the sport supposedly dilutes that, one can't help but notice some sort of correlation. Sellouts wear proper gear, the original cool kids don't.

Additional arguments against the use of gear view it as restrictive and cumbersome in addition to being unstylish. In some respects, one can somewhat see their point, but once one becomes accustomed to using specific types of gear, any sort of restriction should be adaptable, should it not?

I have always been a strong proponent of protective gear for any application, regardless of how stupid it might look and I am speaking from experience. I have a scar on my right forearm about 2cm in diameter (.75 inches) that is a result of hitting a pebble and falling down a hill while going rollerblading. Because of all the gear I was wearing (helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads), that was the extent of my injuries and that's only because the elbow pad slid up while I was skidding downards.

While snowboarding, I always wear my helmet (to avoid the dorkiness factor, I put a cool looking sticker on the front...and YES, I do know that they say you're not supposed to put stickers on helmets, but it didn't say anything about it in the manual, so I think it's okay), even though I have yet to have a major enough crash to need it. However, enough attention has been brough to snowboarding injuries that no one makes fun of me for it. However, people do ask why I chicken out before jumps because I'm wearing a helmet. Maybe because a helmet don't necessarily protect against a broken spine? I don't know...

I remember proudly wearing a protective cup to a pick-up game of soccer with a bunch of people from school. "A cup," one of my friends muses, "You wore a CUP to a pickup game of soccer?"

"Uh...yeah," I replied. I do this because back in 4th grade, I took a soccer ball to the crotch and I was on the ground in pain for what felt like an hour (in reality, maybe 3 or 4 minutes), crying my eyes out, while the teacher could not figure out what was wrong. I mean, seriously. A guy doubled over, protecting his groin, crying his eyes out, and he STILL can't figure it out? Small wonder why he wasn't teaching phys. ed at that school the next year. To this day, if it's a soccer game that's even remotely organized and planned beforehand, I wear proper protection.

Argumemts against the use of the cup include lack of comfort and the fact that "You can't run with one." One of the opposing team players commented that I was able to run a little faster than him (which he felt justified him using a tactic that was just short of yellow-card worthy), and he was a lot more athletic than me.

A few minutes later, one of my classmates, a student hailing from Brazil (several times World Cup Soccer champions) takes a shot to the groin. Upon witnessing this, I say to the naysayer, "YOU SEE? YOU SEE?!"

And when it comes to any other sort of activities where protection is an option, you can rest assured that I will be taking advantage of it.

Getting back to The Crystal Method show. I like listening to my music loud, but I like to be able to hear the next day. Live music venues turn up their music above comfort levels. This is important because they have to be heard above the crowd and they have to be heard by the people at the back. For people who want a close-up view (like myself), this can be very uncomfortable after a while unless your hearing has already been permanetly shifted. But, with the volume turned down just a touch with ear plugs, it sounds fine, and I don't actually have to pull the ear plugs out in order to talk to someone (they have to speak into your ear directly anyway).

And as I type this, my ears aren't ringing at all. Heck, I got a stereo playing "Legion of Boom" right now and I can hear it fine (although I am having problems hearing it over the clack of the keyboard).

To finish, whenever someonen makes the argument that protection looks stupid, I usually counter with this...what looks dumber, a person in perfect health wearing a dorky looking helmet? Or a guy in a wheelchair that is permanetly brain damaged, has a metal skull plate and a series of stitches in his forehead and is drooling on himself while the fingers on his left hand constantly twitch?

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