Action athletes at ESPN's X Games should be wearing helmets

Unfortunately, many of the skateboarders and bike riders doing dangerous tricks set a bad example by not wearing helmets.

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Wearing a helmet when biking, skateboarding or roller blading prevents serious head injury and death. That's a fact.

And over the past two decades medical professionals and others made great strides in getting the word out. Advocacy groups have mounted campaigns to convince young children and their parents it's smart to wear helmets.

A decade or so ago it seemed nearly every young child and the majority of teenagers -- even adults -- were wearing helmets.

Not so much today. Look around. Helmet use seems to be down.

We noticed this disturbing trend over the past two years, and wondered why it is occurring. What's changed? We now have one answer.

ESPN's highly promoted and much watched X Games -- kind of like the Olympics for action sports -- concluded over the weekend. In a great many of the bicycle and skateboarding events the majority of the contestants didn't wear helmets. Most wear beanies or flat-brimmed baseball caps turned backwards or to the side. Their heads were unprotected.

These are the world's best trick bike riders and skate boarders. They are role models for kids.

Parents can demand their teen and pre-teen children wear helmets at the skate park, but the example set by the revered skateborders and bike riders featured on ESPN undercuts the message. Kids might have a helmet when they leave home but it doesn't seem to be on their heads when they are skating or riding. Too many young people have come to believe it's not cool to wear helmets.

We aren't alone in noticing the lack of helmet use at the X Games. The following message was posted on a skateboard company's website this morning.

"I caught some of the skateboarding park events of X Games 16 yesterday, and the first thing I noticed was that none of the riders were wearing helmets!

"These kids are the biggest role models for the sport -- with millions of impressionable youth now seeing that riding without a helmet is OK. The IGSA (International Gravity Sports Association) won't let you compete without a helmet, so why in the world doesn't the X Games have safety standards?

"I'm sorry but tight jeans and a beanie won't keep your brains in when you crack the back of your head transitioning in a concrete park."

Exactly. The high-profile bike riders and skateboarders should be leading by example. So, too, should ESPN, which is owned by Disney.

Helmets should have been worn by all of the contestants at the X Games. Wearing a helmet is always wise.

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