By Josh Martin, Sports Editor
When it comes to injuries, it’s no secret that athletes tend to play through them. Nearly every player in the playoffs is battling through some form of physical pain, despite the future consequences to their health. This may be because of the need-to-win attitude grounded into their mentality, or it could be the lack of knowing what effects an injury can have long-term. But most likely, it’s the level of competitiveness among teammates and opponents that drive these players to the edge. Wherever it may be, there has to be a point where you say enough is enough.
NFL Hall of Famer cornerback Ronnie Lott seriously injured his finger during the 49ers last regular-season game in the 1985 season. When faced with the choice of either undergoing procedures to fix the finger and missing the playoffs, or amputating the tip and playing right away, Lott chose to amputate the finger.
In 1956, Manchester City goal keeper Bert Trautmann suffered a neck injury with 15 minutes to go in the FA Cup Final. He played on and his team won the match 3–1 against Birmingham City. After a few days of prominent pain, an X-ray revealed that he had dislocated five vertebrae and cracked the second in two, an injury that could have cost the keeper his life.
More recently, Patrice Bergeron of the Chicago Blackhawks was rushed to hospital in an ambulance in game five of the Stanley Cup finals a few weeks ago. He returned in game six to help his team win the Stanley Cup against the Boston Bruins. It was revealed the next day that he was playing with a separated shoulder, torn cartilage, a broken rib, and a punctured lung, speculated to have been caused because of the broken rib that was left untreated.
One might call these players heroes of the game. They’re warriors who will fight to the very end, but they’re also incredibly stupid. The aforementioned example of Mr. Lott slicing off his finger in order to play in the playoffs takes the cake.
It’s the individual’s decision what to do with their health and body, but the league needs to lengthen the games in a regular season in order to prevent injuries.
The Major League Baseball (MLB) season consists of 162 regular-season games in a span of approximately 180 days between the months of April and September. One can make the argument that baseball isn’t as physically demanding as other sports, so they should be able to put up that many games in such a limited amount of time. But 162 games in 180 days is unnecessary and ridiculous. The MLB could slice 20 games off the schedule easily and there wouldn’t be much of a difference in terms of where teams rank in the standings. If a team is terrible after 120 games, then another 42 games probably won’t make a difference.
The same could be said for the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League—both leagues that withstand 82 games in a regular season. Decreasing that amount by five or more games would make a huge difference in terms of giving the players the rest they need, especially since the post-season is so physically and mentally demanding.
Lessening the amount of games in a season may be the only possible way to prevent injuries from athletes. There’s no way these players are going to let their bodies get in the way of helping their team reach a championship title—it’s just not going to happen.