San Diego Law Review

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Perhaps one in every 1000 BASE jumps results in death, and the fatality and injury rates for BASE jumping may be forty-three times higher than for standard skydiving. Some other new sports are extremely dangerous. In addition, some medical researchers are finding that repeated jolts to the head in traditional contact sports correlate to midlife Alzheimer’s disease, suicide, depression, inability to work or function without a caregiver, and early death from the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). “[N]early a quarter of a million new patients turn up each year with long-term deficits resulting from . . . so-called mild traumatic brain injur[i]es.” Nevertheless, our tax laws still treat injury risks as irrelevant and may grant maximum tax benefits to any nonprofit organization teaching and promoting any legal sport. The current approach helps grant cultural cover for dangerous sports and provides government subsidies through tax benefits. This Article challenges the current approach and addresses the very practical question: which current doctrine should a court or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) use in determining whether an organization promoting dangerous activities deserves most favored tax status? Recent psychological research on risky behavior supports this Article’s proposal.

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