There is Nothing Like Sport Injuries to Set Your Mind Right
Sport injuries suck. Pull a hamstring? Learn a new way to walk for a couple of weeks. Sprain an ankle? Never get back to 100%… EVER! Snap a bone in your arm, lacerate your face to the tune of 20 stitches, tear a ligament. All of these maladies suuuuuuck in the moment. However, outside of the obvious catastrophic ones, sport injuries are worthwhile. Sports are one of the best ways to learn about the trials and tribulations of life. There are few things more valuable when learning about the hardships of life–and how to overcome them–than good old fashioned sport injuries. Get knocked down twice, get back up three times.
When things are going well in life, life is easy. When you have a steady job, a loving family, and a purpose in life, this whole existence thing can seem like a cakewalk. But for the most part, that is not the standard: life is not all unicorns, flowers, and gumdrops. Life sucks. It can be a devious trickster waiting for you to slip on a banana peel. The question that life asks–almost daily–is how are you going to react when things do not go the way you planned. If you are an athlete and dealt with sport injuries your entire life, you have a wide range of answers to that question.
Sport injuries suck like the Mega Maid from Spaceballs. They simply hurt. Whether it is the acute immediate pain of a broken bone (my specialty is the broken nose), or the throbbing incessant pain of a sprain (hello ankles), sport injuries actually hurt. Hurtin is not fun. Whether it is emotional or physical. If you had the option to choose between hurting and not hurting, you will always choose “not hurting” (unless you are a masochist). But sometimes in life, you do not have the option of choosing. Life, like sports, can just up and decide, “get ready for pain today.”
You can be living your life and playing your sport without a care in the world besides what comes next, and then immediately have everything turn upside down. One minute you are an inside linebacker scrapping along the line while mirroring a running back, the next your leg is in a position that would make Gumby do a double-take. Now you are laid up on the sideline and cannot help your team. You are hurting, and worse, you feel useless. Do you sit in your misery and let that downtrodden feeling takeover, or do you get up and figure out another way to help the club?
Can you still cheer? Sure. Grab some crutches and cheer. Maybe you can hold the water bottles. Go get that water. Hell, maybe you saw some tendencies from the guards that were tipping off plays. Now you can tell your backup what to expect.
Life hits with the same bone-shattering intensity. Maybe one of your parents is getting a new job and you have to move to a different state. Or you failed your driver’s license test and have to face the ignominy of being the only one in your class without a license. And the worst of the bunch; Dad has Stage-4 cancer and the treatments aren’t working. How do you survive such harrowing moments? What in your life can prepare you to overcome obstacles that seem larger than life.
They teach that even when you are at your most down-and-out, there is always a way to make things better. This moment of pure unadulterated pain will subside. The pain might get worse before it gets better, but it will improve. The tears you shed over an injury or over the loss of a loved one, they will dry up. Pain is not permanent. You use that pain to find the hardest answers in life. It might take failure after failure and more and more pain, but those answers are there, those solutions are waiting to be discovered.
One of the near debilitating truths of life is realizing the pain might never fully heal. But pain is necessary to know how to push through, to get out of that mud and back to greener pastures. Your scars might have scars on them. You might wake up every morning with the pain of athletic life, of a lived life. With the pain of knowing you can never call up a loved one and hear their voice, revel in their laugh. Yet you persist because you are an athlete. And athletes don’t quit.
Sport injuries compel you to learn how to adapt. To find a solution in the darkest of caves and emerge wisened. As sick as it sounds, we need sport injuries the same way we need the terrible things in life. Yes, they are painful. Of course, it would be easier if they never happened. But life is not easy. There are no secrets. So deal with the pain. Appreciate it. And thank whatever belief structure you have, that today the pain is manageable. The injuries not too serious. Because you might never know what is going to happen tomorrow. And even if it is the worst, thanks to sport injuries, you know you can overcome it.