Spotlight injuries to bench pro athletes

Sports injuries are nothing new. They are presumably as old as sports themselves. Although getting injured has proven to be a constant in athletics, high profile sports injuries have been especially apparent in the national sports-media recently.

Some sports are more forgiving on the human body than others, but each and every one has their own unique injury concerns (yes, even golf).

There has been a myriad of NBA injuries suffered this season and last, including a concerning number of knee and leg injuries.

Notably, these have affected two star point guards: Rajon Rondo from the Boston Celtics and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. Both Rondo and Rose endured severe ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tears, and have had to miss entire seasons while going through the arduous process of major surgery recovery.

The amount of serious injuries to NBA players has been staggering of late, and when superstars get badly hurt and cannot perform for a year or more, the national media beings to take notice.

Derrick Rose is perhaps the most intriguing case, as he is a former MVP for the Chicago Bulls and a point guard with a freakish combination of athleticism and skill. Rose was thought to possibly be the heir to Michael Jordan, in Chicago and elsewhere. His knee injury occurred in the spotlight of the playoffs, and such disability truly saddens me, as I know how it feels.

My own personal experience allows me an informed perspective on such predicaments. Rose’s reluctance to return to play has been widely questioned; criticized by some.

My third shoulder surgery was basketball related, and the prospect of me playing basketball just ten or eleven months after my operation is absurd; simply being able to hold a job was a struggle until very recently.

Needless to say, sports have hurt me badly. Recently I visited my orthopedic surgeon, with a torn meniscus I suffered in my knee. Naturally we began to chat, and the topic of Kevin Ware came up. My doctor hypothesized regarding the seemingly freak injury.

He said that often times human being have cysts in their bones that occur naturally. He compared the formation and growing of bones in the human body to the creation of glass, where bubbles can sometimes form.

I have dislocated my shoulders approximately 30 times, and at least five or six of those occasions occurred playing pick-up basketball at the UVM Rec Center. These injuries were so severe that I required an ambulance and a stretcher, as I lied on the ground in pain, and was then transported to the ER to have a doctor wrench my shoulder back into its socket.

Sports safety has become a staple of our national conversation. A significant reason for this has been the NFL as football has grown drastically in popularity in the past several decades and is now the most watched professional sport.

It also happens to be extremely violent by nature. Apt comparisons have been made to ancient Rome, the implication being that NFL players are modern day gladiators who battle and get hurt for our entertainment.

I do not disagree, yet even the NFL has become more progressive in protecting its players, especially regarding head injuries. In any sport, however, prevention has its limits.

Orthopedic injuries will happen in sports. When they happen to players in the spotlight of the national media, such as in the case of Kevin Ware, they have the potential to increase awareness, but little else differs.

At the risk of sounding bitter, at least star athletes whose injuries capture the media’s spotlight have great health insurance. My medical debt will hang over my head for the next decade. Dwight Howard can afford that shoulder surgery he will be having in the off season.

Kevin Ware is expected to recover, with a similar timeline that has applied to my own surgeries; roughly one year with a heavy amount of physical therapy throughout. I hesitate to use the term “full recovery” because I know from experience that is never the case with such a serious injury/surgery.

His body, like mine, will be changed forever. However he is fully expected to eventually play basketball for Louisville again.

The words of Kevin Ware, to his teammates, following his injury were to simply “win the game”.

In honor of Ware, that’s exactly what they did, all the way to the number one spot. With the heart and determination that Ware has he will be out on the court using his talent not his words to win that spot again next season.