Athletes Speed Cars And Danger


ORLANDO, Fla. -- The larger issue came under the microscope again Tuesday at Bay Hill as the best players in the world prepared for Thursdays first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard.
Here was the question under examination: Is the commonly accepted notion that professional athletes are people who drive fast cars at dangerously high speeds a fair stereotype?
Yeah, I suppose you could stereotype it that way, said Rod Pampling, the Bay Hill defending champion referring to athletes in general.
Fair or unfair stereotype, a follow-up questioner wanted to know.
Oh, I think its a fair comment, Pampling added. I think most guys have cars that are relatively a bit quicker than the standard car.
The issue of deadly speed was raised in a golfing context Saturday when PGA TOUR member Arjun Atwal was involved in open road incident that resulted in the death of another driver when that drivers Mercedes, traveling at speeds of more than 100 miles an hour according to witnesses, crashed into a tree.
Atwals BMW ran off the road and he was unharmed. Law enforcement officials are still investigating to determine, among other things, whether or not Atwal and the deceased were engaged in a form of street racing. All of this took place in Windermere, Fla., not more than 20 minutes from Bay Hill.
Thats going to be tough on Arjun to live with for the rest of his life, Pampling said. You dont know what really happened yet, so its hard to say whats going on.
Making it even more difficult for Atwal is the need to remain silent while the authorities sift through the details and the wreckage. Sunday night, Atwals agent released a statement expressing Atwals deepest condolences to the family of the dead man.
Meanwhile, a news service in India published comments from Atwals father, Harminder Atwal, saying he had spoken with his son and that his son didnt know the other driver and wasnt engaged in any kind of street race.
He is a trifle nervous but otherwise OK, the story quoted the elder Atwal as saying.
Harminder Atwal said his son was returning home from a golf practice session when he saw, through his rear view mirror, the other vehicle approaching at a high rate of speed. He said his son believed the man was chasing him.
As it (the other car) was coming at a very, very high speed, Harminder Atwal said, Arjun apprehended that the car will hit his vehicle and he also speeded up a little bit. But the person driving the other car may have thought that he (Arjun Atwal) wanted to race and speeded up further.
Meanwhile, back at the larger issue, PGA TOUR player Jeff Quinney disagreed with Pampling to this extent: I dont think of professional athletes as being fast drivers, he said. They own nice cars. But that doesnt necessarily mean they drive them fast.
The key word there is necessarily.
The opinion here is that professional athletes are a subset of a larger group comprised of people with large amounts of disposable income. Many of those people have obtained that income by taking risks'either on playing fields or in business arenas.
Driving a fast car at a high rate of speed, for many of those people, can be addictive. Not always. But often.
The opinion here is also that Atwal will be cleared in this matter. The incident took place at 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon not more than a mile from his Keenes Pointe home. If he was out looking to race, logic dictates he would have chosen another location.
Atwals father insists Florida law enforcement officials only took a statement from his son and are not looking to charge him with any wrongdoing.
Atwal is not entered in this weeks tournament at Bay Hill.
Its a tough thing to comment on, Pampling said.
But its not hard to imagine that professional athletes everywhere swallowed hard when they heard the news about Atwal.
One of Atwals Keenes Pointe neighbors told me Monday he owns a car similar to Atwals, one capable of reaching top speed quickly.
Im shaken by this, he said. My next car is going to be an SUV. Im serious.
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