I haven't mentioned the somewhat disturbing wrinkle that developed in Abby's story:
Reality check: After nearly losing their 16-year-old daughter Abby to rough seas on a solo sail around the world, did Laurence and Marianne Sunderland try to cash in with a television reality show, "Adventures in Sunderland"? [...]Magnetic Entertainment's website is, as I write this, a placeholder. But a cache of the page shows the "Adventures in Sunderland" blurb--and did when I checked the website earlier this week. Exactly when plans to feature the Sunderland children in a reality show fell through is unclear--but there is still talk that hints that Abby might write a book about her adventures.
Laurence Sunderland told the Los Angeles Times Monday that he had cut ties with Magnetic Entertainment, the company with which he had planned to do the show, because he was not happy with the direction it was taking.
"There is no show at this time, nor will there be," he told the newspaper. "They were assuming Abigail was going to die out there. They were relying on her dying, and so we cut the ties."
I didn't rush to write about this, though I was interested in it, because I wanted to give Abby's family the benefit of the doubt. But it seems clear that at least at one point, there were plans to shop a reality TV show about the family--about Zac Sunderland's voyage, about Abby's voyage, or perhaps a combination; or maybe the concept would have evolved into something else entirely.
So, does that change approval for the degree of risk the Sunderlands are willing to allow their children to undertake?
For me, it doesn't make much of a difference; I already said that I don't think sixteen-year-olds should be attempting solo circumnavigations, and it seems that several sailing associations might agree, as they no longer officially recognize any records set by such young sailors. But for those who were more inclined to defend the Sunderlands, I have to ask: does the fact that there was even talk of a reality show--even if it didn't get anywhere--change your opinion? Can parents be dispassionate enough to make sound parental decisions when somewhere in the background, somebody has an idea for potential fame (and, possibly, fortune) based on the child's adventures?