It’s time for China to regulate death-defying rooftopping

By Hu Xuka Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/7 19:23:39

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

I was astounded to hear the recent news about the two Brits who climbed atop a 37-meter-high crane to play "planking" without any safety precautions, even as police pleaded with them to come back down. The young men were eventually detained and fined for their dangerous behavior, Knews reported.

It is not hard to associate these types of daredevils with Wu Yongning, a Chinese extreme sport lover who died on November 8, 2017, while "rooftopping" in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province. He was only 26 years old.

I am not prejudiced against extreme sports, as it cultivates the spirit of freedom, bravery and self-confidence, and can also improve one's mental and physical health. Skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding and bungee jumping were once considered extreme sports, and yet now they are quite commonplace.

The difference with rooftopping, however, is that it purposely breaks rules and defies public security, as it requires its participants to evade the authorities, pick locks and enter off-limit areas. This results not only in violating many laws but also puts people at a much higher risk of losing their lives.

Some people argue that rooftopping is a personal choice and even a human right. However, freedom is not letting you do whatever you want to do, but teaching you not to do the things you don't want to do, as German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) once said.

Indeed, rights and responsibilities run parallel with each other. Yes, everyone should have the right to play sports, but in doing so you should also take responsibility to safeguard personal safety and respect public security.

In 2016, a foreign woman clambered over the Aizhai bridge in Hunan, one of the world's longest suspension bridges, from which she prepared to parachute, according to media reports. Authorities arrived on the scene and told her not to go through with her jump, but the lady defied their orders and leapt.

Likewise, in 2007, a foreign man ascended Shanghai's 88-story Jinmao Tower with his bare hands, drawing a large crowd and causing traffic congestion below, according to media reports. In many of these cases, the participants have achieved a high level of internet-fame by streaming their climbs and jumps on social media, which in turn earns them sponsorships or advertising deals from merchants.

Before dying, Wu Yongning had millions of followers on social media, and his ascent videos earned him 55,000 yuan ($8,753) on an online platform in addition to lucrative sponsorship deals, according to The Beijing News. The blind admiration of his audience combined with his own greed compelled him to push himself to the limit, which ultimately resulted in his death. So who is really responsible, Wu, his fans or his sponsors?

Many extreme sport lovers do so for the adrenaline rush or as a sort of spiritual quest, which is all well and fine. But among those who take it further by breaking laws just to get more followers on social media or earn bigger profits from their videos really tarnish the reputation of extreme sports.

Worst of all, their influence entices youngsters to emulate these so-called role models by trying the same thing. How many children and teenagers who ever saw a Wu Yongning video went out and injured themselves? Countless, probably. But where are the tears and eulogies for them?

I certainly can appreciate and respect the self-challenging spirit of these daredevils and am grateful for their contributions to the world of sports. But for the good of our society and to help save lives, it's about time that, at least in China, more effort should be made to highlight the profound difference between traditional sports and death-defying activities like rooftopping.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Posted in: TWOCENTS

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