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It's an old cliche, but sports injuries are just a part of the games we love so much. From season-ending ones to even more horrific examples like former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann's or Gordon Hayward's on opening night of the NBA this year, the way that some of these players are getting hurt is outrageous. Even more crazy, though, is the strange obsession that most fans have about them, doing whatever they can to at least see if one is worse than the other.
It was while watching the Zach Miller injury, the Chicago Bears tight end — where his leg snapped one way as his body pulled the other, untouched — that it crossed my mind; "this is entertainment."
I nearly hurled up my nachos all across the coffee table as I still watched the replay about 50 times. I watched it on my phone in my morning meeting, too. "Oh, you didn't see him lose a freakin leg, Jan? You've gotta see this." It's a weekly occurrence, doesn't matter the season. Gruesome injures have increased like crazy, but what's the deal?
When the aforementioned Gordon Hayward went down just six minutes into his Boston Celtics career, it was a heavy reminder that, in just a split second, everything can change. The newfound son of the Celtics was ripped from his new team before even playing his first home game. And, F'in A, no human's ankle is supposed to bend that way! The instant you see that, you can never unsee it. It was reminiscent of the Paul George injury, where he sustained a hideous leg break while playing for Team USA before the Olympics.
From baseball to hockey, there have been some terrible, vomit-inducing injuries over the past few years. Some of these we write about, like the puck to the face injury that NHL player Zach Werenski sustained last year, but it's still hard to stomach.
We could go on and on, though! UFC fighter Anderson’s Silva’s broken leg was one for the books, only to be out done by Kevin Ware’s open fracture in the Elite Eight years ago. Which, even after knowing how and when it's going to happen, still haunts your nightmares. Then there was Marcus Lattimore dislocating his knee and ruining any chance at a solid NFL career. Lattimore's knee literally bent like he was Stretch Armstrong. It was disgusting.
Still, even those can't compare to former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand becoming paralyzed after leading with his head for a tackle. It's all sorts of scary, and, it’s injuries like all of these where sports begins to tip toe the line between entertainment and tragedy.
So what’s being done?
Well, in some sports, it’s just inevitable. When you have guys who are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before, the smallest mistake can be a horror reel for years. Some sports, particularly football, are making big moves to increase safety in their sport.
The NFL has been throwing money at helmet and concussion improvements for years. More recently, they’ve even had conversations with the Players Union about eliminating turf fields on account of the increased non-contact injuries associated with it. (See: the aforementioned Zach Miller injury).
In basketball, adding extra space to the baseline is a top priority in safety. Had there been more baseline, maybe the Paul George injury never obliterates his leg? Who knows, though.
In major league baseball, fan safety is becoming a trending topic after more and more bats and balls fly into the stands. Fans are becoming victims of these unfortunate accidents, so, rightfully, MLB is doing their best at helping to prevent more tragedy.
As for the NHL, well, they’re hockey players. They’ll rub some dirt on it and get back on the ice. Yeah, the injuries in all of these leagues are bad, and they’re getting worse, but there’s only so much these leagues can do without taking away from the games.
What’s worse, and something we should all feel responsible for, is our obsession on seeing, sharing and re-watching these injuries. There's something wrong with treating another human as replaceable. For acting as if they're gladiators being torn apart by a lion and finding some strange enjoyment from it.
For example, take me with the Gordon Hayward or Zach Miller injury; I watched each of those injuries at least 10 times while writing this article. I’m a depraved human being… Oh well, let’s replay the clip of that Paul George injury again!
Lead image via Getty.