Extreme or just stupid?

It’s a debate that dates back to at least the 1970s heyday of Evel Knievel.

The question: Is a daredevil a true athlete?

This was something people actually spent time considering back in the day, when kids (like me) idolized Evel as he jumped over school buses on a motorcycle and tried — and failed — to jump Snake River Canyon in a jerry-rigged rocket ship.

The issue is back, as YouTube has spawned a new breed of daredevils, eager to risk life and limb for a few thousand “views” of their homemade video.

Is dare-deviltry a form of extreme sports, or is it just dangerous and stupid?

The answer may just depend on your age.

When I was in grade school, I thought Evel Knievel was a superstar athlete, the equal of 1970s sports icons Muhammad Ali, Terry Bradshaw or Reggie Jackson.

This week, however, when I read about how a new YouTube daredevil’s extreme stunt went horribly wrong, I just thought: “Wow, that’s really stupid.”

Let’s see what you think. Here’s the story:

On Wednesday the AP reported, “An Orange County (California) man known for jumping off landmarks in YouTube videos has been placed under investigation after reportedly injuring himself when jumping from a Laguna Beach hotel.”

The man, Anthony Booth Armer, 28, was severely injured in an attempt to leap off the Pacific Edge Hotel’s rooftop into the hotel pool without permission,

He didn’t quite make it.

Armer didn’t clear the patio, striking the concrete edge of the pool and shattering both feet.

Ouch.

Police are investigating the incident, They already knew Armer from his YouTube videos.

Calling himself the masked daredevil “8Booth,” Armer is semi-famous for illegally diving off buildings into water.

The Los Angeles Times says, “Armer gained notoriety for his terrifying first-person videos showing him jumping feet-first off tall cliffs and buildings and into pools of water and the ocean. His YouTube videos have attracted tens of thousands of views from the public and law enforcement.”

In fact, Armer had been arrested in October after successfully — and illegally — jumping off other California hotel roofs into pools.

“This is what our concern was — that he would hurt himself or someone else,” Laguna Beach Police Sgt. Tim Kleiser said this week.

“The day after the stunt, police visited the hotel and took a trespassing report,” the LA Times stated this week. “Police have seen the YouTube video and a GoFundMe page created by Armer to raise funds for his medical expenses.”

That’s right — after hurting himself doing something highly illegal and extremely stupid, he wants someone else to pay his medical bills.

He even wants paid for answering questions.

“When reached for comment by The Times on Tuesday, Armer asked for a $10 payment for each question, adding in his e-mail that he was ‘super busy with business so my time is valuable.’ The Times does not pay for interviews,” the newspaper reported.

I guess you can tell which side of the “is it a sport or is it just stupid” question I come down on.

This guy is a moron.

Still, when I was a kid I thought it was cool that Evel had broken every bone in his body in various stunts-gone-wrong,

So I guess I can see how today’s kids might find this “8Booth” guy sort of cool. Maybe.

Except Evel’s stunts weren’t illegal, and didn’t put innocent bystanders at risk.

He also didn’t charge reporters 10 bucks a question.

I guess if you own someone’s action figure as a kid — the Evel Knievel one my folks bought me rode a motorcycle and came with a ramp — you’ll always think he’s cool.

Even if as an adult you realize some of the things he did were, in retrospect, actually kind of stupid.

Exactly why did he want to jump Snake River Canyon anyway?

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