safety & capture the flag

From: Sam G.
Sent on: Thursday, June 27, 2013 9:45 AM

To the members of the SF Capture the Flag Meetup group,


As many of you know, a player got hurt at last Friday’s game. She collided with another player in the dark, and may have received a concussion. Since then she has communicated with the group and directly with Roman, indicating that she now feels better. Fewer of you know that at the same game the group’s organizer, Roman, was also hurt when he hit a tree at speed. (He asked me to point out that at the time he was clutching the other team’s flag.)


These mishaps oblige us to reflect on the risks inherent to the games we play, how we can reduce the danger, and how we react when a friend is hurt in the course of a game.


Our games take place on rough and slippery surfaces, obstacles can heave suddenly into our paths, and we don’t wear armor or helmets—capture the flag is not pinochle. And yet, while it’s not unusual for players to take tumbles and scrape knees and hands, the group seldom has more serious accidents. I am among the two people to have broken a bone during a game, but I am old and clumsy and brittle.


Concussions routinely happen during games like football, soccer, rugby, and hockey, but that does not mean they’re trivial: they are scary, and no one who’s suffered a concussion should return to the playing field before full recovery. Medical examination should follow suspected concussions, and a visit to the doctor is imperative if symptoms such as dizziness, grogginess, and blurred vision persist.


Before games begin, Roman and I try to identify risks associated with the places we play, and we discourage risky behavior. When we see someone playing overzealously, we intercede—in every case, the players have immediately complied with our injunctions. In the future, we’ll be even clearer about how to avoid hurting yourselves and others, and we’ll go to greater lengths to mark and minimize obstacles.


The reactions of capture the flag players to accidents on the field have consistently been excellent. Players from both sides help the fallen, and when I hurt my heel some years ago I was bandaged and ferried home by strangers; yet another stranger drove my car home for me. On another occasion, money was collected to help with a the medical fees of a hurt player. (She returned to play again.)


The remarkable thing about this group is that competitiveness never trumps good humor, sympathy, and concern about others.


Please let me and Roman know what you’re thinking about this subject. We hope to see you at the next game.


Sincerely yours,

Sam Gilbert


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