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Equestrian: World's Most Dangerous Sport?

This is Darren Chiacchia competing in equestrian at the Athens Olympics. He won a bronze medal there and was a favorite at the Beijing Games as well.

But he won't be going to Beijing. Last month he was training a stallion that fell on top of him as it jumped a fence, leaving him in a coma for a week and nearly killing him. He's now in a rehabilitation facility in Buffalo, and he's much better off than many equestrian riders whose horses stumble on jumps: Katie Thomas of the New York Times reports that 12 equestrian riders have died in the last year and a half during falls in practice or competition.

Equestrian may very well be the world's most dangerous sport, and although there are various calls for the sport's governing bodies to make it safer, it's surprising that there aren't more people speaking out for the International Olympic Committee simply eliminating it.

And, of course, I have to ask: Can you imagine the way the media and the politicians who think it's their job to protect us from ourselves would react if 12 mixed martial arts fighters had died in the last year and a half? There are risks associated with every sport, but when the media shine a light on those risks, they ought to put them in some perspective. Thomas's reporting makes clear that if you want to go after dangerous sports, equestrian should be your top target.

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