Here’s a revelation: Athletes are human.
Ok, so maybe it isn’t exactly a revelation. But it is something that is far more overlooked than you might think—especially in college.
But before we get to the college part, let’s quickly consider the case of Chris Bosh—a star player for the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association. Well known in the NBA, Bosh has been in the league for over a decade now.
Bosh has enjoyed a prolific and rather healthy career as a power forward/ center. Late last week, however, it was announced that Bosh had developed blood clots on one of his lungs and will miss the remainder of the season—a surprisingly scary injury that shook the sports world.
Everybody expresses sympathy for the player who can—through an X-ray or MRI—prove that he is injured or hurt, like Chris Bosh. However, whenever a player doesn’t have a definitive injury, like a broken arm or torn ACL, fans are especially quick to condemn that player.
The world has, especially within the past 5 years, started to recognize “invisible” injuries like concussions that won’t show up on an MRI. Documentaries, films, and books like "Head Games" and "League of Denial" have shed light on this sobering issue. We now know that if an athlete takes a hard blow to the head, he may have gotten more than his “bell rung.” This doesn’t stop at concussions, though.
“Especially in college football, I’ve witnessed players continuing to play with a, and sometimes more than one, chronic injury, only because of the suck-it-up culture within the sport,” says Tevin Montgomery, a former defensive tackle for the Boston College football team. “The constant body and head colliding during games and practices results in severe and long term joint and overweight issues during [players’] post-football lives.”
In reality, players listed as “active” and described as “healthy” may only be healthy insofar as they aren’t too injured to play. Thus, the definition of “healthy” in the Division I sports world is far different than what people would ordinarily call “healthy.”
Would you say you were perfectly “healthy” if you had a chronic knee pain that caused you to walk with practically a limp? Probably not—but the Division I sports world might.
At Boston College—or any school for that matter—athletic injuries are ubiquitous. Whether it is in traditionally rougher sports like football, hockey, or lacrosse or whether it is in any other sport, like basketball, baseball, or soccer, players will have injuries.
And again, we can easily label some of these injuries. But for many of these “invisible” and chronic injuries, we cannot immediately label them. However, just because we cannot give them a definitive name does not mean they are any less real.
So the next time you see your favorite Boston College athlete hobbling on the sideline, remember that there may be a whole lot brewing under the surface and that that player is human, too.
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