Olympic Athlete’s Death Preserved Online

In the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, Nodar Kumaritashvili, a 21 year old luger from Georgia, was killed in a training run. He lost control of his sled and was ejected from it into a metal support beam. There is obviously footage of this crash seeing as the Olympics is broadcasted worldwide. I had only read news articles and heard by mouth of this horrific accident. However, one of my friends did see it on TV at the time and commented on how graphic it was. This got me to thinking. I was not around for the live crash, but, sure enough, I typed it into Google and found the video immediately. I figured it would only be up on youtube.com, or less prominent websites. I figured the actual footage wouldn’t be shown by the news anymore. But the place that I actually found the video was on CBSnews.com. They not only showed the crash in live time, but also showed still images as the luger was colliding with the metal beam. For some reason I found this unnecessary to even be archiving the video. Anyone could search and view this crash, and I compared it to a family member dying. Say a family member was killed in a car accident, or dying of cancer. I would not want this on the Internet for people to watch over nad over. Does the luger’s mother and father in Georgia even know that this is on the Internet, their son’s death is permanantly reocurring online? I find this to raise a big question of what video documents are okay to be posted online and what aren’t?

I did a little searching on other’s opinions on this question and found this article that discussed the concern of not having guidelines or a “road map” for Internet ethics.

I feel that the graphic material is not an issue, as all the sites warn the viewer it is graphic content, but the fact that this Olympic athlete’s death can be viewed all over the world and is embedded  online permanently. In the article, the author brings up the idea that TV chooses what you watch, but the Internet lets you choose. If I didn’t find concern with the video’s posting online, I wouldn’t have even thought to Google it and watch it. I feel the family should be able to decide if they want this video online or not. The issue that arises is, does keeping this video online really give value to a news story, or would the story be just the same if unaccompanied by the graphic footage? Also, should the family have a say in this video’s posting, or does the news have the right to it because the Olympic games are basically a public broadcast to all? All I have to say is, if he was my brother, seeing his death once is far too many times.

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2 thoughts on “Olympic Athlete’s Death Preserved Online

  1. This was a topic that came up in my other ethics class. It’s tough because you can play two opposite roles when considering this dilemma ethically. On the one hand, you can take the Kantian approach and say you’re denying Nodar Kumaritashvili his dignity, and not to mention dismissing the reason why he was present at the olympics: the talent he had for luging. On the other hand, you can play devil’s advocate with a more utilitarian view and say the video is informative and warns other competitors still present in Vancouver of the risks of the run. I know that the father was made aware of the video and stated he does not want to see it. I am in the same boat with you. I don’t think think this video should be posted online. It’s disrespectful to the family and Nodar Kumaritashvili’s former talent. He should be remembered for his hard work and dedication. I don’t think this video online is doing anything productive for the public. As breaking news it was informative, but I don’t even know if I’d consider the video appropriate for television. Obviously many networks felt the same way, considering the video was only shown four times if I’m correct. The unfortunate situation is now it’s on the internet and is most likely going to be stored there forever.

  2. I definitely feel, in respect to the utilitarian view, that it definitely does more harm than help the greater good. I feel that the story has just as much of an impact without the video and the explicit still shots included in that video. It definitely does nothing for his legacy as an Olympic athlete. I do respect the fact that the father was made aware of the video, but I feel that he should’ve been asked to grant approval of the video shown. Maybe that’s something the media should consider when airing material like that and should ask approval to use a video that could potentially be offensive to that person’s family even though it technically is the media’s property.

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