This past week Snowboarder Magazine held Super Park 13 at Mammoth Mountain, this unique event which brings together 3 of the best terrain park teams in snowboarding and matches seasoned pro’s and young guns is a spectacle to behold. When you’re invited to an event like this, the level of riding is pushed even further and injuries do occur. As stories started to trickle out on the internet of the carnage that ensued on these obstacles, one story stuck out. What set it apart from all the other tales?
The fact that this rider does not have health insurance, was injured, and is riding at a level that should require it. Unfortunately this is a problem that is present with tons of up and comers in the snowboard world. I know of very few people on the up and up who receive health benefits from their sponsors or that can even afford it themselves. Add to that riders for small upstart companies and the idea of insurance is one that is out of reach.
Does the blame for this lie solely on the companies sponsoring these riders? No, like it states on the back of all lift tickets and various signs around the resorts we frequent, we assume the risks associated with this sport. But sometimes the pressure of being in the limelight outweighs good common sense, especially when the photographers are right there and you are getting exposure. With the push to find younger riders every year someone needs to step forward and mentor these kids. This is where companies team managers need to step up to the plate and be a mentor.
Fortunately for Cody Rosenthal he has a community of people to help aid him in his time of crisis. I received this on Facebook yesterday: “Cody Rosenthal recently broke his L3 vertebrae on day two of Super Park 09. He was flown out of Mammoth Lakes Hospital to Renown Hospital in Reno and is currently in ICU. His surgery takes place May 10, 2009. This group is for all of us who love Cody and wish to support him and his family financially during this very difficult time. Like most talented snowboarders in this industry, Cody does not have Health Insurance. Any donations anyone can give are deeply appreciated. Just follow the link below to donate. If you don’t have a paypal account already, its FREE and EASY to get one, it only takes a second… Give a little to someone who gives a lot.”
While it’s unfortunate what happened to him and we wish him well, perhaps it will help make companies realize that health insurance should be a part of a riders contract. Other sports give their athletes insurance and as we go more and more into the mainstream it is time that companies start doing the same. This is especially true with more and more companies putting focus on riders to push the limits.