The NFL teams just began their full training camps a little over a week ago, and already there are a significant number of injury reports coming out of the camps.
According to an injury report at ESPN, there are 171 reported injuries, an average a little over five injuries per team. It’s hard to get a full handle on what gets reported as an injury, but that number seems quite high, particularly after the first week, when I would think the teams are taking things relatively easy.
I then decided to check to see if there is a baseball injury report, and there is, also at ESPN. This report lists 117 players currently out of the lineup.
Even though it is the off-season for the NBA, a CBS Sports site lists 45 players as injured.
I know that athletes competing at the highest level of their sport are willing to test the limits of what their bodies can do, but something just does not seem right when there are so many injuries.
I often wonder if the level of compensation may have something to do with the level of injuries. With so much money on the line, are these athletes taking too much risk with their long-term health or those of their competitors?
In football, this could be shown by a willingness to run across the middle to make a catch, knowing there is a high likelihood of getting clobbered, or going for someone’s knees when tackling.
In baseball, there are players sliding head first or running into walls (and not to mention the steroid and performance enhancing drugs scandal).
In basketball, some players show no fear when driving down the middle of the lane, knowing that they are likely going to draw some contact from some big guys, while wearing virtually no protection.
I realize that the vast majority of time these sort of plays happen all the time and there are no injuries. And it is these sort of plays that get the fans excited,
So perhaps us fans need to accept some responsibility for the level of injuries in professional sports.
While injuries may be a natural part of such sports, I don’t think they need to occur as frequently as they do.
There may be ways to change incentives, such as players getting a HUGE bonus if they don’t miss any games (I would think that could lead to players taking better care of their health and taking more calculated risks while playing), or not having injuries shown on replay or on the highlight reel for the day.
Part of what got me thinking about this issue is watching the Olympics.
How sad would it be if other sports, such as swimming (my personal favorite), had injury levels like these pro sports. The athletes would end up missing an event they have dedicated their lives to, and fans might end up missing the greatness of someone like Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky.