Reality TV death: Pushing the limits?

So this weekend I was sitting down flipping through the channels when I came across The Subaru Primal Quest. After reading the description, I saw that it was one of those adventure races like “Eco Challenge” that I sort of like, so I tuned in. I knew Mark Burnet had been the creator of the original Eco Challenge, and I’m sure I saw him at one point talking, and the music had some definite “Survivor” tones to it. So as I’m watching, the front racers reach a point where they basically have to go around this mountainside in a circle, looking for flags. The terrain seemed more than normally treacherous for these races, but it’s often hard to tell from the tv views. !0 minutes later, they aired the emergency radio call asking for evac of a seriously wounded team member. A few moments later, another call came saying that the evac wasn’t necessary. As the story unfolds, as the team was climbing down this ravine, the top-most team member dislodged a rock that bounced down the mountain, and killed the lowest racer (Nigel Aylott )

After the tragedy, all the racers were collected, and most seemed to want the race to continue, and from what I can read about Mr. Aylott, he probably would have wanted the same thing. Even cutting out two extremely dangerous legs of the race, there were still several teams that were stranded on the side of the mountain, and needed assistance to extricate themselves.

So my query is this. While adventure racing by it’s very nature should have an element of danger to it, in the constant push to go farther each time, and push the limits, have organizers of these events gone too far? Just looking at some of the places they were going to go, and the things they’d have had to do, I’d think it a miracle if someone hadn’t gotten seriously wounded. There were just way too many places for something to go seriously wrong. I’ve noticed that on the past few “Survivors”, the players haven’t looked as gaunt as in previous seasons. While it’s pure speculation, many people seem to think that they’re being given a bit more food and medical attention than before. But do you think the “make it bigger” type of mentality will continue, and we’ll see more of these types of accidents?

Adventure racing is a genuine sport that’s been around long before Survivor or even Eco-Challenge. Certainly, there is an element of risk that’s apparent to the contestants before they sign on, sort of like auto racing. I don’t think a freak accident like this should be taken as an indictment of all reality TV in general.

However, you do have a point. I stopped watching Eco-Challenge when the show moved from Discovery to USA Network and became “Survivor-fied”, recruiting stupid celebrity teams like the Playboy Bunnies (who actually did quite well) and Hayden Christiansen. One of these days there will be a major disaster on a popular reality show, which the media will run with and create the death knell for the genre.