FanDuel - WFBC

May 06, 2007

When to Hang It Up: Itís a compelling cliche: the modern-day athlete as a proud and fearless warrior, always willing to sacrifice his body for a win. Like many cliches, it resonates partly because itís true and partly because we want it to be true.

posted by justgary to culture at 11:13 AM - 6 comments

Very thought-provoking article, justgary. It seems like a natural response to cheer for the guy or gal who comes back from the horrible injury. It seems like what we the fans are responding to is the human spirit, the fact that we can be so resilient. It's a combination of sympathy and pride, just like that moment when the injured athlete is carried off the field to a round of applause and cheers. No one should have to endanger their physical or mental health in a blind pursuit of dollars. That's true for any occupation, although most occupations don't command the dollars that professional sports do. But really, what's the alternative? Is it possible to somehow keep team doctors independent of the ownership of the team, so that their opinions can't be biased? If not, then what do we do, ban professional football and wrestling? Even then, bizarre injuries happen under even the best of conditions. No one thought the NBA's frequent brawls in the '70s were such a big deal until Kermit Washington hit Rudy Tomjanovich. Should we stop playing basketball? There has to be some middle ground where we can protect athletes and still let them do what they do. My response as I began this article was "This is a guy thing. Playing through pain is all about being macho; women have better sense." But then I remembered Kerri Strug at the '96 Olympics. It's just a sports thing, and unfortunately there are no easy answers.

posted by ridadie2005 at 12:38 PM on May 06

Cue Roger Clemens making a return.

posted by jerseygirl at 02:32 PM on May 06

justgary, I finished reading the article only a few minutes ago, and I was thinking about posting it myself. You beat me to it, and I'm glad it got here. ridadie2005 has the same take on it that I have. It is unfortunate that our culture seems to promote the risk-taking behavior that leads to permanent damage. While it might be possible for some authority above the teams or the leagues to mandate that injured players not be allowed to get back on the field (or court, or ring, or rink), I would hate to see anything that would interfere with an athlete's right to take responsibility for his own health. We already have enough "nannies" looking out for our well-being as it is.

posted by Howard_T at 04:01 PM on May 06

But then I remembered Kerri Strug at the '96 Olympics. That's the case that came to my mind first: the acclaim that she got, and look, here's coach Bela Karolyi carrying her to the podium for the medal ceremony! Aw, the love, the dedication...the composted cow manure. By most accounts, Karolyi was a bastard of the first water (but obviously one that knew a photo op when it slapped him in the face), and word is that Kerri Strug's ankle was messed up for good.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:07 AM on May 07

I read where Kim Clijisters retired from professional tennis yesterday, after a career plagued with injuries, many of which she continued to play with. How many times did we see her play with something bandaged, it seemed like she was always hurt. She's only 23, but at least is wealthy enough to be able to walk away now, and smart enough to know it was the right decision.

posted by eccsport78 at 08:31 AM on May 07

No one should have to endanger their physical or mental health in a blind pursuit of dollars. That's true for any occupation, although most occupations don't command the dollars that professional sports do. No, but a dollar is a dollar. I know very few people who wouldn't be corrupted by the offer of more of them. Certainly, we hold physical pain as a benchmark/arbitor of sacrifice, but I think that we put our mental well being at risk on a daily basis.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:11 AM on May 07

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