On June 15th, 2012, world famous daredevil and tightrope walker Nik Wallenda will attempt to do what no one has done in over 100 years: Tightrope walk across Niagara Falls. However, this past weekend ABC, which is a major financial backer of the event, confirmed that Wallenda will in fact NEED to wear a safety harness on his tight rope walk. The question can now be asked: Is it even “Death Defying” anymore?
The first major hurdle was overcome when the 32 year old Wallenda (who is actually a 7th generation daredevil) got officials on both the Canadian and American sides of the falls to allow the stunt, something no one has been granted permission for in over 100 years. The typically stiff governing bodies with a “no-stunt” policy agreed to the attempt because of the positive impact it would have on tourism. More than 200,000 people are expected to watch the event in person and millions more will watch it live on television. However, with ABC’s new safety protocol mandated, many feel that the event is completely cheapened.
Wallenda himself commented on the update: “It’s disheartening – I wanted to do it without anything,” he told the Buffalo News over the weekend. “To me, it just personally takes away from it.”
ABC insists that the crossing will still be a special event. Citing that the night time crossing, combined with the mist from the falls and the length of the walk will make Wallenda’s feat extraordinary. Certainly they are not incorrect in their assessment, but by tethering Wallenda to the line they are eliminating everything that a “death defying” act stands for.
One can certainly understand ABC’s point, not wanting to risk millions of eyeballs witnessing the death of a man on live television. Such a tragedy would certainly cause emotional damage to countless people.
However, for those who have already shelled out hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to book their spot in Niagara Falls to witness the stunt in person, one can’t help but feel they are being a little cheated. The risk that Wallenda was taking on was the single biggest draw of the stunt. That risk is now gone. Certainly a successful crossing will be an incredible feat, but a safety harness truly takes all the fun out of it.
We want to know what you think about this. Post your comments below on whether you think ABC is wrong with their decision and if the event is still something you want to watch.