The human head is an amazing instrument.
The sense organs for eyesight, hearing, smell and taste are located in our heads, as is the processing unit that determines our sense of touch.
The multi-billion dollar makeup and hair care industries are dependant on human desires to decorate our heads.
Of course, this urge to decorate our melons also benefits the folks who make hats and earrings (and nose rings, lip rings, lips studs and whatever the hell those dumbbells are that people jab through their eyebrows).
Every morning, humans spend countless hours prepping their heads just to be deemed presentable by fellow members of the tribe - men shave and gel their hair while women subject themselves to a more extensive transformation.
And that's just the surface - literally. The human head also contains the brain, one of the most vital organs to our continued existence. Without it, the rest of the marvelous organic machine we call a body is just a pile of meat-covered bones.
And yet, after spending so much time pampering our heads to start the day, we treat this magical orb incredibly cavalierly for the rest of the day.
In sporting events, a bare head is somehow interpreted as a sign on toughness.
In hockey, it was only 15 years ago that the last NHL player to play without a helmet - Craig McTavish - finally hung up his skates. He was called a nostalgic throwback in the final years of his career, but were it not for rules, I'm sure there would be players today who would stake their masculinity upon playing without a brain bucket.
Need proof? Just look at the number of players who ditch visors when they turn pro because the clear strip of plastic "impedes their vision."
Really? It didn't affect you when you were playing junior hockey on your way to the show.
I guess the pro teams only have access to opaque plastics.
Even worse, the idea of goalies wearing facemasks is still considered a relatively modern innovation for the sport.
Hockey is not the only sport that takes the head for granted. In football, players must wear helmets, but many opt to use the hard plastic shell as a weapon by leading with their heads. The recent revelations about rampant concussions in the game demonstrate the devastating effect these tactics have on the guy doing the hitting, never mind the fellow on the receiving end of those blows.
Soccer is a nice, genteel sport that avoids such conflicts, right? Ever watch a team set up to defend a free kick? The lads all line up in a neat row and put their hands over their crotches, demonstrating a clear preference to taking a rocketing soccer ball square in the face over a similar shot to their "happy place."
Of course, this callous disregard for our own cerebral safety is not limited to the sports arenas.
As we have seen in recent weeks, cyclists are chafing about the law requiring them to wear helmets, as are motorcycle riders who are upset the government won't allow them to wear glorified salad bowls on their noggins while weaving through traffic at more than 90 kilometres an hour.
Good thinking road dawg. According to the hardcore pedal pushers, donning a bicycle helmet for quick spins around the block or short errands is somehow a deterrent for people.
Having to put on a helmet makes the cycling trip an unbearable chore and people instead leave the bicycle in the garage in favour of using their cars to run the errand.
Reading between the lines, the implication is that after spending so much time to get our heads looking so stylish, a helmet will only mess up that effort.
By differentiating between long rides and short spins, the bicycle advocates essentially say bouncing your unprotected head off a curb or an SUV's side mirror a couple of blocks from your home is much more soothing than sustaining the same trauma while pedalling through rush hour traffic a couple of miles away.
The same applies to the motorcyclists who scream, "Helmet laws suck," because not only are they not allowed to ride bareheaded, they can't even wear a flimsy beanie of fiberglass that only effectively covers the one part of their head that won't be making initial contact with the rear end of the truck in front of them when they are catapulted over their handlebars.
The bottom line is that like seatbelt laws, the helmet regulations are in place to protect us from ourselves. If the government was really serious about cracking down on those who ride without helmets, they would make the consequences more drastic.
I humbly suggest the government borrow a page from the hockey arena: if a player is hurt and he/she is not wearing a visor and mouth guard, their personal injury insurance is void.
By extension, any cyclist or motorcycle rider who refuses to wear an approved helmet effectively waives their health insurance. Why should taxpayers be on the hook to pay for your vanity/ stupidity?
If the current monetary fines for riding bareheaded are too onerous, check out the cost of a motorized wheelchair with puff-andblow controls.
Ah, never mind - they probably won't wear a helmet while riding that either.
Michael Booth can be reached at mbooth@ thenownewspaper.com
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