Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Great Skydiving Debate

I can see why skydiving can be super exciting for some, I am sure it's exhilarating to freefall like that. However, I find the fact that almost all skydivers now carry a secondary chute, as a spare, a very interesting piece of information. I am almost certain that the secondary chute wasn't part of the sport when it started, but rather was added later on.

I'd resell my soul to the devil to have witnessed the debate that went on when the spare chute was introduced, seriously. I can see it going like this, a young skydiver comes up with the idea and is passionately trying to convince his fellow 17 century adventurers that too many folks hit the ground like a bullet when their main chute malfunctions and they need to put an end to it. Then comes the visual aids, a 17th century pie chart that explains that in the last year chutes have malfunctioned 20% of the time, which after a lot of data crunching means that the sport yields a 20% fatality rate. He then tries to quickly preempt their first objection by saying: Now, I know that 20% isn't at all a bad fatality rate compared with our other, more challenging problems (i.e. the Black Plague), but still, let's call it statistically significant. The really interesting part comes next, the community quickly is divided around the idea. The first camp, the pro-life camp, advocate the secondary chute. The other camp, pro-choice camp, doesn't.

The pro-life camp will explain that this is a much needed reform to ready the growing sport for the 18th century, the pro-choice camp will dismiss this change since it contradicts the basic values of the sport. The pro-choice camp will seek the endorsement of key skydivers to ensure that a secondary chute is not introduced. Pro-life, on the other hand, wont be able to enlist any ex-skydivers who were fused with the pavement due to chute malfunctions, this will hurt the pro-life campaign significantly.

The debate will not only wage between skydivers, Big Chute, the evil blood-sucking chute corporations, will also weight-in on the debate. For Big Chute, it's a thin line they have to walk. If they come out in support of the pro-life camp, this will automatically mean that the sport is so dangerous that you require a secondary chute, which will decrease their target market. On the other hand, if a secondary chute becomes mainstream, this is means Big Chute will be entering a new lucrative market and introducing new products with higher margins. Big Chute treads carefully.

When I imagine myself as part of this debate, I see myself as a pro-choice campaigner.There is something so deliciously evil about trying to convince people that: a. They need to skydive b. They don't need a spare chute and c. Yes, 1 out of 5 will die skydiving. I'd seriously get a rush from doing this.

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