Risk Versus Reward

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There are risks involved in everything we do. Airplanes can kill you, along with cars and motorcycles. Energy drinks have killed people and so does obesity, drinking and driving, sky-diving, smoking, and a myriad of other things — all personal choices that had those choices not been made, that person, arguably, may not have died. The use of performance-enhancing drugs is no different.

We all make our own choices and those choices, when they don’t bother anyone else, shouldn’t be scrutinized. However, in the world we live in these days — especially with social media — everyone has an opinion, and those opinions are far too often about people other than themselves.


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I read an article the other day about a college student who was on vacation and took a selfie to post on social media, and while stepping on a rock close to a ledge, she fell to her death. Instead of responding with compassion for such a young woman losing her life and understanding that her family just lost their little girl, the responses berated her for making such a stupid decision. I think we can all agree that no picture is worth risking your life, but I am also sure that this girl didn’t think she was going to die, either. Instead of saying something heartfelt and nice, the large majority of the responses were horrible, cold, and judgmental. This is just one of many examples we have all witnessed in situations where someone lost their life, tragically.

12668112 - bodybuilder flexing his muscles in studio

Csak Istvan © 123rf.com

I hear all of the time that I shouldn’t ride a motorcycle because it could kill me. If I didn’t allow my children to drive at 16 years old, I wouldn’t have to worry about them making the wrong decision and dying in a car accident. If we all sat inside a cage and didn’t go anywhere, we would certainly be safer with less chance of injury or death. However, what kind of life would that be?

There are people in this world who enjoy pushing the envelope. Some people want to see how many flips they can do on a snowmobile while representing their country in the Olympics. How much fun would watching the Olympics be if they only allowed sports where there was no risk? The X-Games would be eliminated very quickly. Motocross, NASCAR, and Indy Racing would be eliminated, as well. Top Fuel Dragsters? Gone. Football has been shown to cause brain damage right along with boxing and MMA as well.

Bodybuilding is no different. Competitive bodybuilding is comprised primarily of people who are willing to do what others aren’t willing to do: to be the best they can be. Death isn’t imminent, but it is well known by those involved that the harder you push the envelope, the risk increases. Why then, are people being judged on those decisions when the decision is well informed and a personal decision that doesn’t impact the people who opine?

When someone loses their life, it is incredibly sad for those left behind who are directly impacted. If you aren’t one of those people directly impacted — you shouldn’t have an opinion about the choices that were made. It simply isn’t your business. Too many people sit back and want to debate whether that person knew the risks, saying things like, “If they had it to do over again, they would have made a different choice.” You have no idea whether they would do it differently. You only know that if it were YOU, YOU would do it differently.

view of Everest - way to Everest Base Camp - Nepal

Daniel Prudek © 123rf.com

If I die pursuing something that I am passionate about, should I be judged for my personal decisions? You can’t say, “Your kids didn’t ask for you to take chances like that” or “I’m sure your wife would not appreciate your choices” — you have no idea what my kids or my wife think; you are guessing. You are putting yourself in a position that you can’t relate to because you can’t understand my passion. If you did, you WOULD understand. You won’t ever hear someone who is passionate about climbing Mt. Everest judge someone who lost their life climbing it. You won’t hear someone who is passionate about deep-sea diving judge someone who lost their life doing the same. Why? Because they understand and can relate to that same passion. This is exactly why people who aren’t willing to take the same risks, will not understand your motivations. I have often wondered if the people doing the most judging are simply resentful that they have nothing that they are passionate about. Passionate people tend to understand other passionate people, even when they don’t share the same passion.


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You can live your life not taking risks; it affects me none. For that same reason, I honestly don’t care what you do. I just ask that you not judge me because I could have a heart attack tomorrow and be gone, and you can bet your ass that most people would say it was because of the choices I made. Never mind that my younger sister died in her sleep at 29 years old from a heart attack. She never took a performance-enhancing drug in her life. Had that been me, we all know how that would have played out.

Bottom line: Mind your own business. Be compassionate. Understand that you might not agree with the decisions that someone makes, but that they aren’t your decisions to make or have to deal with. You aren’t supposed to understand other’s passion or their motivations but respect them. Be sad for the people who were directly impacted even though a lot of those same people, though sad, WILL understand the decisions that person made. Living a life with absolutely no risk isn’t going to happen. We all minimize the risks as much as possible by educating ourselves and not being careless. In the end, we all have to weigh out the pros and the cons and understand the dangers involved. Understand that not everyone wants to live to be 100 years old, drooling on themselves in a nursing home. Quality of life sometimes trumps quantity. It might not for you, but it does for some. Just Sayin’.

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