The risk is often greater than the reward

By Jonathan Goodman
Published: May 2009

Sitting on the bench without your uniform on does not feel right at all. Your mind is telling you that it is more essential for you to be out there helping your team win, rather than being supportive from the bench.

Athletes try to get on the field as much as possible, even if that means playing hurt.

The stories of professional athletes pushing through their injuries truly affects several student athletes’ decisions to play hurt.

In 2005, injured Eagles wide-receiver, Terrell Owens wittily remarked at the Super Bowl Media day “I’m 81% [his number], a medical miracle.

This attitude inspires many athletes throughout the world to ignore their pain and play injured before they are really recovered.

Here at South, if you walk into the trainer’s room after school it is packed with athletes. Are there really that many injured South athletes? Are all the players who say they are in pain, actually in pain?
“Being sore is different than being in pain. After a full season of football you are going to be sore, south trainer Andy Ray said.

Being sore is okay, it’s your body’s way of confirming that you have done a lot of work, and athletes should play through soreness.

When players are in pain, however, and are not even able to walk, they should stay out of the game. Nonetheless, there are many athletes who decide it is more important to win the upcoming game than to monitor their recovery and personal health.

When athletes play injured, the injury is likely to worsen, which is ultimately more detrimental to the team in the long run.

As seen in the Celtics’ playoff run this year, injuries hurt the team’s potential to win. If Kevin Garnett had not been sidelined with a knee injury, the Bulls series probably would not have gone seven games.

Another question that is often raised is whether the coaches are overworking their players. Some student athletes complain of practicing too long and hard.

“There is no such thing as working too hard, Ray said.

With that being said, it is essential for the players to trust their coaches and know that he or she is looking to improve players’ ability as well as maintain overall health.

The key to working hard though, is working smart. If a player is hurt or feeling pain it is not smart to bypass the pain and continue to play anyway.

A great number of injuries that come from training can be narrowed down to weight lifting. When lifting weights incorrectly, injuries are almost inevitable. “I have been upstairs [in the weight room] and seen kids squatting wrong, Ray said.

A large number of student athletes lift too much weight before their muscles are strong enough to benefit from the workout. Not only does incorrect form injure athletes, it does nothing to bring them closer to their ultimate goal.

It is not only in high school sports where athletes play hurt though. Last year David Ortiz played the season with a hurt wrist. His offensive production dramatically decreased from his discomfort and pain.

Despite the ramifications, many athletes continue to play injured, which is neither good for the team nor their personal fitness.

Athletes playing with injuries are an increasingly big problem, and players who suffer from physical pain or injury should stay out of the game.

There is a fine line between an athlete trying to be a hero and permanently damaging their body. While the first option, being a hero, may seem like the best possible choice, the risk is far greater than the reward.

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