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Are the risks worth the rewards?

3/7/2001

Before you think the system's in error and you've been sent by mistake to
the NASCAR page, consider the link between the
drivers who carried on after Dale Earnhardt's death and the jockeys who do
the same after such calamity. In fact, the jockeys
don't get a full week off.

All around Rockingham, N.C., where the Winston Cup drivers carried
on with their chosen profession after Daytona,
the question was repeated again and again. And the drivers -- sometimes the
same driver -- offered opposing views depending on their
frame of mind. From "Yes, it's good to be racing again. Dale would have
wanted it that way" to " We'd be happy to sit out a week
since no one really feels like racing."

They went ahead with the event -- a day late because of rain. No amount of
recovery time was really going to provide a fix. If the decision is to
continue in the sport, they may as well get on with it.

One difference in the two sports is that somehow the drivers are celebrated
in comparison with their cars to a far greater degree
than jockeys are in comparison with their horses. But the jockeys
never get cheated out of facing similar risks.

More drivers will crash; more riders will fall. And the ones who make it
through unscathed will give thanks they still have a choice
to make. And most all of them will carry on. They already know well the
dangers. An accident isn't really necessary to remind them.
Those of us who don't drive 200 MPH and don't steer a horse through a hole
on the rail won't ever fully understand the attraction,
considering what's at stake.

Beating death can't be reason enough.