Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Athletes feel pressure to play through injuries

Credit: Carrie Sloane

Injuries are inevitable in athletics; there is no denying  this fact. What can be changed is how an athlete deals with an injury to get back to playing at the highest level.

In fall 2010, sophomore soccer player Leland Matthaeus injured himself early in the season during tryouts and then tried to come back too soon. This resulted in him re-injuring himself and having to sit out again, longer than he would have if he had taken more time to recover initially.

Later in the season, in an unrelated injury, Matthaeus tore both his ACL and LCL, causing him to be out for the season. This time, faced with a far more serious injury, Matthaeus took his time in rehabilitation.

“Like anybody, I just wanted to get back,” Matthaeus said. “But I just didn’t want to re-injure myself, so I played it safe.”

In sports, athletes can feel an immense pressure to do whatever needs to be done to help their team. This includes putting their bodies on the line day in and day out.

Scott Shields, Whitman’s head cross country coach, feels that most of the pressure comes from the athlete’s personal mentality.

“There is definitely an intrinsic pressure that athletes put on themselves,” Shields said. “In every sport an athlete wants to go out and perform.”

Junior basketball player Jenn Keyes has had experience playing for her team while injured. Last season, with the women’s basketball team already down to only 10 players due to injury, Keyes played for the majority of the season on a bad ankle.

In her case, Keyes was told that she would need surgery eventually. Yet if she continued to play, her ankle would hurt, but her injury would not worsen. With the women’s basketball team already losing two critical players due to season-ending injuries at this point, Keyes knew that if she were to undergo surgery, the team would be unable to scrimmage during practice. Keyes opted to postpone the surgery until the season was over because she did not want to feel like she was letting her team down.

“When injured, there is a part of you that knows it is your fault everyone else is suffering,” Keyes said.

While most of the pressure to play through injuries comes from the injured athlete personally, Matthaeus and Keyes both note that there are some external pressures as well.

“If you’re hurt and it doesn’t incapacitate you, you are seen as a bit of a wimp if you don’t play through,” Matthaeus said.

“Everybody but the trainers want you to play through it,” said Keyes.

It is true that the training staff does not want athletes to continue playing with an injury. While John Eckel, the head athletic trainer, knows that athletes may feel like they would let their team down by sitting out, he stresses that they should not hesitate in visiting the training room.

“People should feel comfortable coming to us early so that we can prevent any complications,” Eckel said. “We don’t want to be viewed as a bad guy.”

Athletes can generally tell when a teammate is truly injured or when somebody is just milking a minor injury. When a teammate does start to overplay an injury, some tensions can arise on the team.

“It is the little injuries that people make bigger than they are that really bother me,” Keyes said.

In order to avoid rifts in teams over the seriousness of injuries, Matthaeus notes the importance of communication between teammates.

“We’ve played long enough to be able to tell when somebody can play,” Matthaeus said. “It’s when people don’t explain their injury well enough that they get in trouble.”

It is not only the athletes who notice the power that injuries can have on the way a team interacts, head swim coach Jenn Blomme emphasizes support between teammates in times of injury, with trust and honesty playing a crucial role.

“In terms of team dynamics, it is never easy to have injuries on your team,” Blomme said. “I believe that if there is healthy trust and respect established among teammates, then those teammates can actually be incredibly supportive in times of injury or illness.”

Eckel strongly promotes prevention as the first and biggest step for athletes’ health and fitness, but if an athlete does get hurt, the training staff is available to help and will make sure the injured person is healthy before giving them clearance to play.

“We don’t want to return someone too soon,” Eckel said. “The sooner you get help, the sooner you get healthy.”

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    help meMar 3, 2020 at 7:06 am

    listen im gonna make this short i need help