We understand Nik Wallenda's desire to wire walk across Niagara Falls without a tether. We really do. The thrill of performing and watching a death-defying stunt becomes a bit less thrilling when it's not actually "death defying" because the daredevil is basically dragging a leash to keep him from accidentally plummeting to his death.
And after all, this is Niagara Falls, the daredevil capital where plenty of other men and women have risked — and sometimes lost — life and limb in their bid against nature. Wallenda's desire to follow in their footsteps and also honor his family legacy is perfectly understandable.
But in this case, Wallenda's walk is not just about him. It's become a huge promotional event that includes live network news coverage on ABC, national sponsorships and local vendors who are heavily invested in Wallenda making it across the falls in one piece.
Perhaps it's wrong for corporate sponsors to be able to dictate the terms of Wallenda's walk. But it's hard to blame them for not wanting to have their reputations blackened by live coverage of a man plunging to his death. For that matter, why would supporting local and state officials want to risk being linked to such a thing?
The risk is real enough. The Flying Wallendas are famous for their stunts, but several, including patriarch Karl Wallenda, had their lives cut short by wire-walking tragedies. Wanting to ensure great-grandson Nik Wallenda's safety is hardly a crime.
Part of the reason we opposed Wallenda's bid to walk across the falls was because of the risk to life — not just his, but also that of rescue teams who would be forced to try to save him under dangerous conditions should things go wrong. Monday's suicide attempt by a 40-year-old man is a prime example of how first responders — in this case members of the Niagara Falls, Ont., Fire Department — risk their lives to save others.
We don't doubt that Wallenda is a skilled professional who is trained to perform in adverse weather, but the unpredictable and tempestuous conditions of Niagara Falls are impossible to replicate at any practice site.
Wallenda says the tether poses its own safety risk because it forces him to deal with an additional piece of equipment he's never had to wear before. But the wire walk isn't until June 15. He has time to train with it.
We encourage him to do so, and we wish him luck.