You may have heard that there is a shortage of lifeguards in the United States.the city of houston offers a $500 bonus to new lifeguards. Jackson, Mississippiis raising lifeguard salaries by more than 40 percent. colorado $250,000 to “strengthen” to hire lifeguard reinforcements. in the meantime, senior citizen According to the Lifeguard Association of America, about half of all public swimming pools across the country are close or reduce hours Due to staff shortages this summer.
News reports say the current shortage may be largely due to pandemic-era shutdowns and work restrictions. But if this explains the shortage this year as well as the shortages reported in 2020, 2021 and 2022, it cannot explain the lifeguard shortage across the country. 2018, 2016again year 2012.What’s more, there are reports of lifeguard shortages 1984.again 1951.again 1926.
These crises, and the newspaper articles that report them, are as much a staple of summer as the boardwalks and ice cream. A local or national news story on this subject has been published every May or June of the 21st century. Hundreds more specimens of this perennial have been published since the 1930s. Each makes the same basic argument. The swimming season could be spoiled. drowning may increase. But few would admit that such claims were also made in the previous year and all the years before it. In fact, the long and defenseless Ghost of Summer, he has haunted us for five generations since the dawn of mankind. formally trained American Lifeguard.
The reason for the shortage varies from time to time. Now, of course, there is the new coronavirus infection. In the 1980s, officials blamed Gen X demographics, saying one person said, “This is happening simply because there are not enough 16-year-olds.” new york times. In the 1950s they blamed the IRS. “Many lifeguards quit before making $600 so their fathers could apply as dependents for income tax,” the city of Minneapolis explained. star tribune. In the 1940s, experts said conscription conscripted a large number of the country’s youth. Baltimore Sun, some beaches and pools “are seriously considering hiring women.” And in the 1930s there was a shortage. to cause Absorb potential lifeguards into Works Progress Administration.
Overall, however, the alleged causes of shortages are surprisingly repetitive and often remarkably ahistorical.
Lifeguards have strict requirements to take and pay for a multi-day course to pass a rigorous physical examination. repetitive scapegoat. Salary is low.of 1941, pool administrators complained that unconscripted youths could earn far more working in the defense industry than as lifeguards.of 2007lamented a New Jersey lifeguard captain. times “iPods and cell phones are expensive. If your kids are looking for the highest paying job, it’s not lifeguarding.” blaming the rise in literacy (and the corresponding increase in internships). A YMCA water safety expert also mentioned the internship, stating: 2021. Whenever unemployment is low, someone accuses it of contributing to the shortage of lifeguards.
The most consistent description over the years is best described as “children these days.”look 1987“Kids around here have too much money.” 2015: “There’s another big problem. Placing a phone on a lifeguard stand is a shooting offence.” 2019: “Several [teens] They even fear that this job has a responsibility to save lives. ” and 2022: “People don’t want to do this kind of work.” 2023: “People don’t want to work since Corona. Some people said, “Influencers, social media, things like that.”
And of course there is the bigger problem than anything else. No one respects lifeguards anymore.from new york times of 1984: “Like teachers used to be, lifeguards used to be authority figures. But the glory of authoritarian times is gone.” 1985, times It reminded me nostalgically of the lifeguard-loving movies of the 50’s and 60’s (beach blanket bingo and their ilk), and the respect it once evoked. Robert A. Curwin, water safety coordinator for the New Jersey Department of Parks and Forestry, told the paper, “The day of muscular lifeguards sitting in chairs is over. For starters, 25 percent of our guards are girls. (By the way, Newspapers.com has lots of articles about lifeguard shortages in the 50’s and 60’s.)
of times It was once declared that lifeguards are an endangered species. However, thanks to David His Hasselhoff, the population briefly recovered in the 1990s. “When I became a lifeguard,” Warness said. baywatchAnd everyone wanted to be a lifeguard. They wanted a lifestyle with helicopters and fast boats and beautiful people saving lives. ” but Baywatch: Hawaii ceased production in 2001, after which “things started to get worse,” Warness told me. Lifeguard employment has plummeted, and since 2020 has been in a swan swoon. “It’s almost hypocenter,” says Bernard Fischer, director of the Lifeguard Association of America. Said I mentioned the shortfall in a 2022 Fox News article.
Despite the purport of the analogy (Fischer also compared the shortage of lifeguards to the shortage of infant formula), drowning rate Not really soaring. In fact, he is now a third of what it was in 1970, and has been steadily declining for over a century. (There was a slight increase in his 2020 and his 2021, the most recent years for which data are available.) In other words, many lifeguard crises in the past, or perhaps a single A crisis without is not correlated with any crisis. The drowning crisis in America. That’s not to say the lifeguard shortage is a lie, but hard data on its extent remains murky. Warness said the National Lifeguard Association has received “very sporadic” reports from pools, parks and beaches and has a rough idea of the level of need in various areas.
But even if lifeguards are once again an endangered species, they’re still loved for being more like giant pandas than gallach cockroaches.As a culture we do Lifeguards are still considered sexy, heroic and essential (if not authoritarian). baywatch May not be broadcast, but always come back.