“You’re supposed to hurt in wrestling.” I remember those words my son quoted the coach telling him when Jacob complained that his wrist ached. The high school trainer had told him to put ice on it. And he did. And ignored an aching wrist for the entire wrestling season and didn’t tell me.
When spring sports began, and he decided to play lacrosse, he casually mentioned to a friend that his wrist hurt. And that friend told him to go to a doctor. Thankfully.
It’s been many years since Jacob graduated from high school where he wrestled four years. His freshman year he suffered this injury, which lead to major surgery to repair a tiny bone in his wrist. He needed a bone graft from his hip, had an overnight hospital stay (imagine!), and months of rehabilitation. Had he seen a doctor early on, he’d have had a few weeks wrapped in an ace bandage.
Whenever I hear of stories about coaches playing doctor, I’m reminded of this incident. I remember thinking that the child protection authorities had every right to lock me up: I’d allowed a child to play a sport while injured.
Did I listen and learn from that time? Not really, though I insisted he tell me every time he had any sprain and off to the doctor we went for an x-ray. Then, a few years later, when his sister was a high school junior, I allowed her to rule whether she played tennis or not. A pre-season sprain had left her with a weakened knee. She wore a brace the entire season. I nervously watched as it buckled during a few matches; and she, stalwart like a soldier, played on. The day after the season ended we were at the orthopedist; three days later she had surgery to repair a torn ACL.
Once again, I felt the authorities were going to knock on my door and drag me away in handcuffs.
So reading about the knee injuries plaguing star Knicks players and how Coach Mike Woodson allowed them to play, I grimaced and felt for their mothers.
Having lived with teen athletes who insisted they stay in the game, I understand the sentiment of pleasing coaches, bolstering teammates and entertaining fans. High school isn’t the big leagues. Yet these star players are role models. Perhaps if they owned up to their injuries, and sat on the bench a bit nursing knees, high school athletes would be less inclined to have to “buck up” and play through pain.
So time to ‘fess up. Have you let kids participate in sports knowing they had injuries? Have coaches made these decisions? Please share your stories!