Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Prepare for the Bloodbath

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hosting the Michelin MotoGP race this weekend, and evidently things are going to get messy.

According to news sources, the MotoGP brings a few things to each of its host cities: 100,000 spectators, economic injections, and lots and lots of death.

I first came across this on an evening newscast, and then re-read the same general information online. Let's see if I have this straight. According to the story I first saw, due to the increase in motorcycle traffic surrounding these races, host cities should expect to triple - that's tree times - their normal level of donorcycle fatalities. My favorite story quotes officials preparing for motorcycle fatalities to "end up in the dozens."

Dozens, folks. That's minimum 24 , but more likely upwards of 40. Seriously.

Indianapolis hosts many events that garner crowds in excess of 100,000 every year, mainly the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400, Black Expo, and to a certain extent, many conventions and trade shows including GenCon. The two races bring their rash of public intox arrests and a lewd conduct here and there. Black Expo - after a few black-eye years - was largely issue free this summer. And GenCon, well what can you say about a bunch of sweaty guys in black t-shirts playing Magic the Gathering at Steak 'n Shake until 4:00 in the morning? Maybe a few curfew violations at worst. Regardless, none of these events are clocking in with body counts in the dozens! That is, of course, disregarding the countless hordes of Glondorian dwarves slaughtered by this guy.

The crazy thing is that race and city officials are basing these estimates on previous races. MotoGP must be the most dangerous sport in the world. To put it mathematically, if you're one of the 100,000 attendees and we're expecting 40 to 50 deaths you have in the neighborhood of 1 in 2000 chance of dying. That's worse than most of these horrible possibilities, and roughly 35 times the normal chance of dying on a motorcycle placing it somewhere between fires and natural disasters. Is this damn race worth the risk?

Seriously, if any of the aforementioned events brought a death toll like this annually, it would be canceled in a heartbeat. By comparison, there were 23 US military deaths in Iraq for August. By definition, that is not "dozens."

* * *

My cooler head is setting in. Maybe these estimates are inflated to scare all drivers - be they of the 2 or 4-wheel variety - into being more cautious. Likewise, the 'consider the source' mentality wants me to pop over to Google News and dig up reports from cities that have hosted similar events. Maybe it's just that these sources don't really understand the word "fatality." No matter what I find, I'm not going to be happy because either A) these officials are lying to the public hoping fear will keep us in line or B) the reports are true and my street - a haven for late-night 2-wheeled shenanigans - will gush with blood.

Either way, I'm gonna run like hell if I see Kellen Winslow or Ben Roethlisberger anywhere near me this weekend.

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