Injuries not a joking matter

Athletic careers can be ruined when athletes ignore health


Riley Unekis

Student athletes with injuries risk more than lost playing time.

By Henry DeWitt, Sports Editor

Student athletes are some of the most outspoken people in high school.

The work that goes into balancing practices, games and workouts with school work is difficult. If someone is able to be a star athlete on the field and keep good grades, that is an impressive feat worth bragging about.

But a culture that celebrates athletic injuries is damaging to kids who are far from hitting their athletic primes.

One of the biggest injuries student athletes brag about is concussions. Young football players, wrestlers or soccer players thinking it is cool that they sustained a concussion. Concussions are one of the most dangerous injuries an athlete can get, and everyday we learn more and more of the long-term effects that concussions have.

We now know that concussions can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. CTE is a condition that occurs in someone who has sustained repeated concussions in their lifetime.

Former NFL players are desperately seeking assistance, pleading for someone to test them and give them help. CTE comes in stages with stage four being the worst. People with stage four CTE commonly have dementia, Parkinson’s and severe delusions. The worst part is, a new study found that 21 percent of former high school football players suffer from CTE.

These results are astonishing. Sustaining a concussion is never something to brag about. Not having proper treatment and trying to “tough it up” and play concussed can cause lifelong brain damage, and some of the long-term damage is yet to be discovered.

Concussions are not the only injury people think are cool. People love bragging about their severe knee injuries.

ACL. MCL. Meniscus.

If you tear one of those, you automatically become cool. However these injuries take a long time to heal and sometimes never do. A torn knee ligament from high school sports highly increases the likelihood of early onset osteoarthritis or arthritis in the knee, which is currently what star Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley is suffering through. It could possibly mean an early end to his career.

When football or volleyball players post their knee braces on their Snapchat stories, that is not something worth bragging about.

In addition to learning about the long-term effects of injuries, physical therapists are finding how preventable injuries are.

Injury prevention goes way beyond just stretching. The best ways to prevent an injury is being properly conditioned. Injuries in the knee are almost always originated in the glute area. Having proper glute strength can mitigate the risks of hip, knee and ankle inflammation as well as strengthen the knee ligaments. Preventing concussions in sports comes down to playing smart. Not lowering your head in football. Not using your head as a tool in other sports.

When trying to play through injuries, athletes are risking their futures. When athletes choose to play through injuries at a risk of reinjury, that is not selfless. It is selfish. Injuries are serious. No one should put one game over the rest of the season. Let alone their career. Especially not high school students.

It is hard to tell your team you are too injured to play in a game. Games mean a lot. But if you want any chance of playing in college or even at a professional level, risking your career for one game is not worth it.