PLATFORM : Challenging Death

<i> DALLAS WILLARD is a USC philosophy professor who studies sports ethics. Commenting on the recent bungee-jumping death in Perris, Calif., the first fatality of the sport in the United States, he told The Times: </i>

Bungee-jumping is becoming more popular because more people in our society need some thrill in life. Many people hate their jobs. Most people are concerned about social problems but feel powerless to change the situation. Generally, people look to sport for a sense of fulfillment or control.

Many find thrills through individual accomplishment, such as parachuting or bungee-jumping. There is an element of risk. However, in bungee-jumping you are actually (plunging) toward death and jerked back. There is the challenge of death, the symbolism of being snatched back from death.

Unlike parachuting, far too many bungee-jumpers don’t think much about the dangers. To put unprepared people at risk is reprehensible. There should be strict government control on equipment use and on age limits.