Answer/Brother John M. Goddard
It is my personal conviction that sports or hobbies that contain elements of risk need not be totally avoided if the person involved is properly trained and has taken every precaution. Throughout my life I have enormously enjoyed adventurous activities that can be regarded as hazardous to health, for example: scuba-diving in shark-infested waters to depths of 200 feet off the Galapagos Islands; surfing in Australia and Hawaii; skydiving at Lake Elsinore, California; climbing great mountains all over the world, including the Matterhorn in Switzerland, Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Ararat in Turkey, and Huascaran in Peru; snowmobiling and skiing in Utah; skin diving and cave exploring worldwide; flying jet fighters, including the sensational F-111 at 1,500 mph; running rapids on 15 different rivers; and, most recently, delightful flights in a glider and a hot air balloon.
In each of these adventures there has been a deep and enduring enrichment of body, mind, and spirit, a warm sense of communion with our Heavenly Father through contact with the beauty of his creations. I am emphatically opposed to anyone risking his life unnecessarily; that, of course, is foolish. But danger can be minimized through proper training and the development of skill and judgment through experience. Lives are too often lost through lack of experience or adequate instruction. It is imperative that a novice undergo a period of training by an experienced instructor before attempting to climb a mountain, bail out of a plane, or dive with unfamiliar equipment. Thus one can achieve independence by degrees, progressing from one plateau of ability to another, until skillful competence is achieved, thus largely controlling the dangers.
One of the basic principles of the gospel that has been a constant source of inspiration in my own life is the concept of eternal progression. This fundamental teaches us to continually strive to develop our maximum potentialities, physically, intellectually, and spiritually, throughout our lives. Far too many ignore this important commandment and become content with a sterile, colorless existence, timidly avoiding anything that might be considered perilous or out of the ordinary. “Spectatoritis” is one of the common and deadly traps of modern times, becoming increasingly the engrained pattern of living as a person grows older. But it will always be infinitely more enjoyable and rewarding to be a doer rather than a watcher. We live most intensely when we are expressing our God-given abilities in action, and life takes on new meaning when we constantly expand our horizons and add new dimensions. These are the reasons why I feel that action-packed, challenging, and adventurous activities are worthwhile and approved by our Heavenly Father.