Tough Call: Rock Climbing or Bull Riding?

As many as 80,000 fans may be on hand to watch each of this weekend's six performances by five nations' teams of professional bull riders at the Festa do Peao de Boiadeiro de Barretos in Sao Paulo, Brazil, home for this year's PBR World Cup. And the fans won't be surprised if one of the competitors is injured. Brian Canter, ranked 12th in the world, chose not to compete for the co-favorite U.S. team as he contemplates right knee surgery, and a member of co-favorite Brazil's team, Renato Nunes, has a right shoulder injury. Injuries are so much a part of the sport that Professional Bull Riders Inc. puts the latest injury report from its Sports Medicine Team online; our own Marc Barrera talked with professional bullfighter Joe Baumgartner last year about the many injuries he'd suffered and the PPE he wears.

If you watch the World Cup on TV, keep in mind they're riding these bulls for a top prize of only $15,000. The winning team gets $50,000, or $10,000 per team member, and the individual competitor with the highest average for his six bulls will get $5,000.

This sport's ratio of risk to reward seems out of whack. Then again, about 9 million Americans participate in the sport of rock climbing annually, despite the risk of falls and stress-related injuries and the absence of prize money, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine's September 2009 issue. Indoor climbing facilities have brought more people into the sport, according to the study -- an analysis of rock-climbing injuries treated at U.S. emergency departments from 1990 through 2007 by Nicolas G. Nelson, MPH, of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Columbus, Ohio, Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and Lara B. McKenzie, MA, Ph.D., of the center and The Ohio State University's Department of Pediatrics.

They estimate 40,282 patients were treated for such injuries during the 18-year period. Most injuries were fractures (29 percent) or sprains and strains (28.6 percent), with the lower extremities injured most frequently (46.3 percent of all injuries, ankle injuries accounting for 19.2 percent). Falls were responsible for 77.5 percent of all injuries, and 11.3 percent of the patients were hospitalized. "More research is needed to determine how rock-climbers' characteristics, climbing setting, style of climbing, and use of safety equipment and training may affect their risk for certain injury patterns," they concluded.

At least these 9 million of us aren't trying to ride, or distract, bucking bulls.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Aug 28, 2009