Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lawyers killed American diving.

When I was young, the USA had great divers. But as I've gotten older America has had increasingly bad results in international diving competitions. I believe this makes the second consecutive Olympic Games where we haven't won even a single medal.

Watching the Men's 10M Platform competition tonight it struck me that about 25 years ago diving boards started disappearing from American pools. That's about when we were at our peak. Since then it has been a slide to second-rate status as a diving nation. (Or perhaps even third-rate. On would expect a second rate nation to occasionally win a medal.)

America DOES still have diving facilities but these mainly seem to be pools built specifically for diving. So we have areas for a divers to train. But the lack of diving boards for public and home pools means that fewer people will take up diving in the first place. In other words we have artificially reduced the size of young divers in this country over the last 25 years. Seriously, who goes to specific diving facilities just to dive? But if you put a diving board on a public pool every kid who can swim well (and some that can't) will go tumbling off the end of that board at some point.

But diving boards have been removed from almost all pools. The liability is just too damned high, because of personal injury lawsuits. Therefore the diving boards are gone, so only a select few ever learn to dive in the first place. Damn those lawyers anyway!

And I can assure any younger readers that it wasn't always the case. When I was young my mother enrolled me in a swimming class. Part of what we were taught was how to dive off a 3 foot high diving board. This pool also had a ten foot high diving board. (It looked HUGE to me. I never even climbed up the ladder.) Here's the kicker: This pool was at a public elementary school! A ten foot high diving boards for little kids! We have really turned into a nation of weenies.

Post-script: I am 99 & 44/100s percent certain that the gist of my argument isn't original, but I'm too lazy to search for other articles.

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