At some points in Challenge history, fun and novel concepts simply become too much. Water-based eliminations have too often been far too dangerous for the competitors in them and should probably be washed away from the Challenge completely.
Tuesday night’s episode of the Challenge contained an intense forty-five minute elimination which neither team could complete and the winner was decided based on how well the teams did up to the forty-five minute mark. Kayleigh and DaVonne, two below average swimmers were forced to hold their breath underwater in a tank of ice water and memorize a puzzle at the bottom of the tank. As someone who is not a great swimmer themselves, my focus underwater is solely on holding my breath, I can’t imagine adding a memorizing game into the equation.
Now, I understand that the players should be pushed to their limits because the Challenge is an intense competition that people would die to get on. However, an elimination like this, in a cold water tank on a freezing night in South Africa for forty-five minutes, is simply unsafe. By the end of the elimination, both Kayleigh and Da’Vonne were visibly distraught. Once the horn was blown and they were taken out of the tank, feelings of hypothermia set in. They received blankets and many hugs in order to recover. Da’Vonne was not even on screen (still recovering) when the elimination results were announced. Obviously all the parties involved are now fine, but what if we lose a team because they were removed for medical reasons? As much as MTV wants to push the envelope, their primary focus should always be safety.
It was not just this elimination either. On Vendettas, Brad faced Victor in an elimination where the player won by breaking through a glass tank. While Brad breaking through the glass made for an awesome visual, in reality, if a shard got into his knee the same way it did to Timmy on Inferno 3, Brad would have been out for the season. Timmy Beggy had permanent damage from the shard of glass that went into his knee during his elimination on the Inferno 3, so if you want to brush it off, know these injuries matter outside and long after the show.
During Battle of the Seasons (2012), one of the four eliminations was a game called “Water Torture” where one player was submerged underwater in order to elevate their teammate who is recreating a unique pattern. Players had to go deeper underwater for their teammate to get to the top level. Big Easy quit this elimination because his body could not hold up. Zach and Knight went on forever because they both weighed a considerable amount and struggled with supporting themselves (Zach won). Robb Screiber, a chain-smoker, put his lungs under pressure in order to compete in this elimination (he lost). Cast members also mentioned that a production member was in a neck brace from testing the elimination for safety.
Almost all sports are dangerous in some way. Every time I play basketball I’m wary of spraining an ankle when landing from a jump shot or lay-up or throwing my arm out when playing baseball. Although, when you get into the game, your emotions are invested, and the adrenaline is pumping. Injuries can happen in any challenge and because of that we should be able to shrug off the dangers of water eliminations and move on.
Except we do not have to. While all competitions are dangerous, the water based eliminations have proven to be an extra level of intense that should be eschewed.