This week in New Jersey, we had the great Fizzard (that’s a blizzard that fizzles) of 2015. Everyone and their meteorologist mother was predicting the great snowpocalypse and all we got was 6 to 8 inches. Just enough to break out the snow-blower.
When you’ve got that much snow, schools are cancelled and that can only mean on thing….it’s sledding time. Sure enough, the hills of South Mountain Reservation were filled with kids and their parents.
As I drove past this sea of sledding humanity, I couldn’t help but think of the joy I had growing up, going sledding with my friends. Unfortunately, this is a joy some children will have a hard time experiencing. Much like the Orson Welles title character in the movie Citizen Kane, whose final word before his death is “rosebud,” the name of his childhood sled, it appears that there are some folks who want to deprive us of simple joy of sledding down a hill.
Take the city of DuBuque in Iowa, where sledding has been outlawed in most of their city parks. Why would they ban sledding? Did you ever hear the one about 1000 lawyers on a boat at the bottom of the ocean? (And to one of my most loyal readers in Houston…sorry).
The answer is simple. In 2 recent cases, a person injured while sledding was awarded a multi-million judgement when they sued the city they were injured in. Doesn’t common sense tell you there’s an inherent risk when you put your body on a piece of wood or plastic, and go zooming down a snow and ice covered hill? There’s bumps, there’s trees, there’s other people, and there’s a good chance someone is going to get hurt. According to what I’ve read, some 20,000 injuries from sledding are treated each year at hospitals throughout our country.
If you read the articles about the paralyzed little girl or the man with the spinal cord injury, both suffered while sledding, you want to feel bad for them. Than you read they sued the cities they live in, those suits paid out over $2,000,000 per case to settle and you don’t really want to feel that bad for them. The victims and their lawyers have taken the fun out of one of life’s great joys – flying down a hill with the wind in your face, not a care in the world. Except now you might get sued if you hit another person on the hill. I’m sorry you got hurt but you, your families and your lawyers are just another reason why the joy of childhood ain’t what it used to be.
One time, when I was about 5 or 6 years old, my father took my sisters and me sledding at a hill on Community Drive in Manhasset. Another sledder came down the hill and smashed right into my leg. There was some blood, a bruise and more than a few tears but no lawsuit. In those days, you picked yourself up and went back up the hill. The funny thing about that hill is that it’s now part of North Shore Hospital.
I’m not comparing my bruised leg to that little girl but I do think something needs to be done to a system that allows for these types of lawsuits. Instead of using children’s toys as firewood, maybe it’s the books in which these laws are written that need to be burned to ashes.