Are reality shows worth the risk of injuries for athletes?

We take risks everyday. Smaller or bigger, informed or not, we take risks. We make decisions and not all of them have clean cut consequences. We try to live a balanced life, we hope to take advantage of the decisions which can win from and we do everything in our power to stay away from those that can hurt us. But sometimes the desire of gaining something is so powerful, that we can bear the thought of losing and we go all in.

We take chances. And not only when turning towards, but also when wanting to have an exciting adventure and in addition get paid for it and gain celebrity on the side. Yes, we are talking about the Channel 4 reality show “The Jump” that will air its fourth season in 2017 and the injuries it has been responsible for. The main aim of the show is to feature celebrities competing at winter sports like ski-jumping, bobsleigh and speed skating. And sometimes they get hurt. Some participants risk their general health and well being and some have much more to lose.

On the list of celebrities that confirmed their participation to the show we see athletes like: footballer Robbie Fowler, golden medalist taekwondo champion Jade Jones, gymnast Louis Smith or rugby players Gareth Thomas and world cup winner Jason Robinson. Some of these athletes are retired, but others have an exciting career in sports to look forward too. For example, Jade Jones is just 23 years old and she is set to compete this year in the World Championships.

But is the show worth the risk of injury that can take them out of competitions forever? Actor Tina Hobley, former participant in The Jump says that the show should be stopped altogether. She was involved in an accident while practicing a jump and she suffered three major traumas in her knee, shoulder and arm forcing her to use crutches for almost a year. Others, like former Olympic Athlete Louise Hazel who came in second in the 2015 season, say that while the risk is manageable for retired sports persons, it is highly inadvisable for current athletes and she opined they should withdraw.

If we look at the history of the TV reality show, we see that injuries are somehow common. Actor Joe Swash chipped a bone in his shoulder, star Sarah Harding injured a ligament, athlete Linford Christie pulled a hamstring, double gold medal winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington dislocated a shoulder, Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle had fractured vertebrae fused together in surgery. And yet athletes confirm their participation to the show. They want to be feel the thrill, to take the challenge and to be a part of the show. Evidence of past injuries is out there, sport boards have reservations and some even withdraw their funding for training, former participants advise against participating and yet they choose to make the jump. Some, like Jade Jones, stand tall and go forward claiming it is their decision and it is an informed one. So is a TV show worth the risk of injury? For some yes, for others no. It is all a personal decision how thin the line we walk on is.