SBD/9/Sports Society

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              In the wake of the skiing-related deaths of Michael
         Kennedy and Sonny Bono, the national media have examined the
         safety of the sport and possible future safety guidelines. 
              SAFETY IN NUMBERS: The National Safety Council says
         that since '84, skiers "have made 52.25 million visits to
         the slopes annually, and an average of 34 of them have died
         each year" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/7).  Those numbers indicate that
         skiing is "about 20 times safer than bicycling ... and many
         times safer than any water sport, save the backyard pool"
         (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/8).  In N.Y., James Brooke noted there has
         been "less than one death for every million ski-lift tickets
         sold in the last decade" in the U.S. (N.Y. TIMES, 1/7).
              ARE HELMETS THE ANSWER? NEWSDAY's Gregg Sarra wrote
         that industry "insiders believe skiing will join football,
         hockey, bicycling, and mountain biking as a sport that
         mandates the use of a helmet" (NEWSDAY, 1/8). According to
         Ortega & Nelson of the WALL STREET JOURNAL, at ski shops in
         Colorado and Utah "sales and rentals of helmets climbed
         sharply in recent days."  However, the helmets, which sell
         for $30-$160, "provide only limited protection to skiers
         flying down a hill" at speeds of 30-40 mph (WALL STREET
         JOURNAL, 1/7).  In Oregon, Katy Muldoon wrote that with head
         injuries involved in 2.6% of ski accidents, "[e]ven those
         who treat skiing injuries don't agree whether it's
         reasonable to ask recreational skiers to wear helmets"
         (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/7).  An S.F. CHRONICLE editorial
         stated, "There are dangers on the ski slopes. ... No helmet
         law can erase those dangers" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/8).
              HELMETS ARE HOT: On CNBC, Garrett Glaser reported that
         the accidents "might have given concern about safety on the
         slopes a jolt, but in the last year, the protective helmet
         industry had already grown about 20%, from about 66,000 in
         sales in 96, to over 80,000 in 97."  Kim Gibbons, Asst.
         Manager of NJ-based The Ski Barn: "Guys snowboarding have
         helmets on.  It's a cool thing now, it's not a nerdy thing." 
         Steven Hollander, VP/Marketing for helmet manufacturer
         Briko, whose sales are up 25% from '96, said helmets provide
         advertising opportunities: "Helmets have fantastic graphic
         capabilities and it allowed the Briko company a way of
         advertising" ("Business Center," 1/7).  In AZ, Dawn
         Gilbertson wrote that Bell Sports Corp., a bike helmet
         company which "is rolling out a new ski helmet and has
         another line in the works," has seen its stock rise 20% this
         week, and analysts say the accidents are the "only
         attributable factor in the spike" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/8).

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