As safety awareness becomes more advanced, less sport-related accidents occur – but by its very nature, there will always be some risks to competitors and spectators. After all, sport that is completely safe and risk-free is unlikely to appeal to many people; it is the fact that it produces adrenaline that makes it fun, and with adrenaline comes risk.
How to balance thrills and safety
Safety is of paramount importance in the world of sport; this starts at the most basic level with protective clothing, helmets and equipment for competitors. Spectators must be kept at a safe distance from cricket balls, golf balls, flying debris at a motorcycle or motorsport event, and so on. There must be strict rules and regulations for gameplay, which are set by a sports’ governing body; there must be trained officials to enforce them, procedures that must be followed, and qualified professionals on-hand when accidents do occur. There must be fail-safe methods for transfer to hospital, whatever the weather and conditions.
Formula One racing
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) provides regulations for motorsports across the world. Although it is 20 years since a driver died during a Formula One race, when an accident happens it can be very serious, and accidents do occur on and off the race track; not only are drivers and mechanics at risk but also any member of staff working in the vicinity of the race. Developments are continually being made to improve the sport to make it safer, as well as faster and more exciting, including engine developments. Max Mosley, former President of the FIA from 1991 to 2009, has promoted safety throughout his career, as well as the use of green technologies. He endorsed the new V6 turbo hybrid engine, despite complaints about the noise the engine made, saying it was essential to embrace change and move with the times, otherwise you disappear. You can read Max Mosley’s comments online for more information on the debate.
Sports and injury
It isn’t just motorsport where serious injury can occur. Injuries can happen anywhere, and event organisers must ensure that they have the facilities and staff to deal with a minor mishap or major medical emergency. Even at a football match, injury can occur. The highest category of injuries in 2013/2014 was from trips, slips and falls. The Sports Grounds Safety Authority aims to create safe and enjoyable conditions for spectators at all sports grounds and regulates spectator viewing accommodation at Premier League and Football League grounds, Wembley and the Millennium Stadium. Their inspectors have experience in public order, emergency planning, fire safety and new stadium construction, and they can advise on capacity in stadiums and training for stadium staff. Advice can be given with regard to pyrotechnics in grounds and how to safely dispose of flares, fireworks and smoke bombs, counter terrorism security advice, testing of grandstands and seating decks, fire safety, crowd safety, unlocking electronic gates, and much more. This is reassuring for the safety conscious among us.
Staying safe at sports events
As well as adhering to the rules and safety procedures, all participants and spectators, whatever the sport, must use common sense and take responsibility for themselves and those around them.