Players’ injuries indicative of a larger problem for teams
In sports, both contact and non-contact, athletes are prone to injury. Every time they practice or perform/play, whether In sports, both contact and non-contact, athletes are prone to injury. Every time they practice or perform/play, whether it be ballet or professional football, no matter how good they may be, it only takes one misstep to throw out an ankle, one angry opponent to shove you to the ground, or even just a freak unexpected vascular event to knock the player out for a game, the season or the rest of their career. These injuries do not solely affect the respective players but the entirety of the team, the tone of the game, the fanbase and even sometimes the nation.
On Jan. 2, the Buffalo Bills played the Cincinnati Bengals in a regular season game at the Bengals stadium. With about six minutes left in the first quarter, Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin made a tackle, taking down Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins. Higgins was not hurt. They both got up, like usual, but after taking two steps, Hamlin wobbled and collapsed on the field. He went into cardiac arrest. He was administered CPR immediately, and personnel were administering aid to him for 19 minutes on the field. They were able to revive his heartbeat, and he was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in critical condition. The game was canceled, and everyone went home.
Three days later, on Jan. 5, after intensive care, he awoke. The first thing he wrote, still unable to speak, was “Who won the game?” to which his doctors responded, “You did, you won the game of life.” The entire country was hearing about the breaking news that week. Not only the Bills were affected, but also their opponent that night, the Bengals, as well as all of the teams in the NFL. Hamlin’s life was altered, and although he was discharged only a week after the incident, on Jan. 9, and is making a swift recovery, even if he does go back to playing eventually, his career will never be the same.
One of the most significant impacts of player injuries is on the field of play. The absence of key players can affect a team’s overall performance and strategy, as well as lead to a drop in morale among the remaining players. I went to a Dallas Mavericks basketball game last week against the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, Feb. 7, with my family for my dad’s birthday. Basketball is not a sport I usually entertain, but the environment was so lively and exciting, and we were all having a great time.
The Mavs were ahead by almost 30 points at the end of the second quarter and into the third. This was mainly because of 23-year-old, four-time All-Star Luka Doncic. My brother and dad were so excited to watch him play. He scored more points than anyone on either team by a ton until early on in the third quarter. The Mavs were up 81-55. Doncic was going for the dunk, and as he jumped up, Pelican center Jonas Valančiūnas attempted to block him. He was in a position where he couldn’t land on his feet and instead slammed to the floor on his ankle and back. He left for the locker room soon after and would not return again for the rest of the game.
The energy swiftly went down in the stadium and on the court. My little brother was so upset Luka did not come back to play. The Mavs’ chemistry had clearly dissipated with the loss of Luka. Even if he had been on the bench cheering them on, it would have been different. The Pelicans made a huge comeback. With a minute left, they made it a 4-point game. The stadium’s energy went up again just because they thought the Mavs might not pull through. Even though Dallas did end up winning, the lack of chemistry was clear.
Injuries are just as common and have effects on teams at the collegiate level, high school level and even younger. Last year, as part of the varsity soccer team, in one of our first games, away against Ursuline, I remember watching, practically in slow motion, junior Addie Click misstep and fall to the ground. I can still hear the gasps of the other players and the sidelines, and Addie’s cries following soon after. She had torn her ACL and would be out for the season and lacrosse season, which I also played with her. For the rest of the season, we were missing an asset and a friend on the field. She still participated by cheering at all of our games from the sidelines and helping our coaches during practice. But it wasn’t the same.
People identify with sports and respective teams because it represents a part of themselves. That’s why when a player or athlete gets injured, or your favorite player from way-back-when passes away, it can be widely devastating to a crowd that extends outside of the player’s team or even the athlete themself.