Is “Splash” the Most Dangerous Reality Show on TV?

Should the creators of ABC’s reality show Splash have named it Splat instead?

Maybe…  given that out of the 10 original contestants five have had injuries.

Here’s the premise:  10 celebrities will train and compete in regulation platform and springboard diving. Coached by Olympic champion Greg Louganis, the celebrity divers are critiqued by the judges, London Olympic U.S. Gold medalist David Boudia and Australian Olympic athlete and USA Dive Team director Steve Foley.

The diving celebrities include: Basketball legend, 7 foot 2 inch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, comedian Louie Anderson (who weighed in at over 400 lbs.), Chelsea Handler’s sidekick Chuy Bravo, Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh star Drake Bell, extreme skier Rory Bushfield, former Baywatch star Nicole Eggert, former Cosby kid “Rudy”- Keshia Knight Pulliam, defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, Ndamukong Suh, Miss Alabama and Sports Illustrated model Katherine Webb, and former playboy model and reality show star Kendra Wilkinson.

Challenges have included doing back flips, synchronized dives and diving off the 10-meter (32.8 feet) high diving platform.

Chuy Bravo, who entered the competition not knowing how to swim, was eliminated just before Week 2, after suffering from a broken heel. He was replaced by soccer player Brandi Chastain.

Louie Anderson sustained bruised ribs during practice when attempting a back flip:

Although he continued on the show, he withdrew on Week 4 saying:

I know I have very little chance of winning this competition and I am going home, and I am going to defer to Brandi because she has a chance to win this competition.

During Week 3 extreme skier Rory Bushfield ruptured his eardrum during a practice dive. Video shows him screaming in pain as he gets out the water. Despite being told not to dive anymore by doctors, Bushfield comments:

Doctors say don’t dive, I say, “I’m going to dive,” It’s as easy as that.

Fortunately for Rory, he didn’t have to- his partner for the synchronized dive,  Kendra Wilkinson, withdrew from the competition. She was unable to get past the severe phobia of heights (acrophobia) she’d been struggling with throughout the competition. Tearfully, Kendra told the crowd:

I’m so sorry, everybody. This is the first time in my life I’ve quit something. This will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Next injured was Katherine Webb. In a video, she is seen struggling through her dives in practice. She later told viewers that doctors told her she would have to withdraw from the show due to a back injury:

I’ve had the worst time training this week because even the most simplest dives shot pain all the way from the middle of my back down my leg. I went to the doctor and unfortunately he told me I’m out for the competition.

Sounds like sciatica– the specific cause of which was not disclosed.

Former Baywatch star Nicole Eggert has also had a rough time. During Week 2 she scared viewers when her arms gave out while doing a handstand off the 5-meter platform. As she told People magazine:

I teetered on the top of it and then fell, scraped my legs and bounced off. It looks more dramatic than I can say in words. You have to see it – it scared the crap out of me. It really threw me for a loop. I was just a nervous wreck. But I did recover. I had to.

During Wednesday’s taping of the show , Nicole attempted a dive with multiple backflips but crashed into the water, back first. According to TMZ, the ‘impact looked so painful, on-site EMTs rushed in to pull the 41-year-old out of the pool .”

She was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. She was released several hours later, and Tweeted:  “Just have swelling and bruising on my back and kidney’s [sic].”

No announcement has been made yet about whether Eggert will be able to return to the show.

So, is Splash the most dangerous reality TV show competition?

Hard to say. Obviously it’s inherently dangerous to do anything off a 33 foot platform.

Check out our story about the dangers of reality TV : WARNING: Reality Shows can be Hazardous to Your Health! and let us know what YOU think.


Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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