It should be no surprise that sports and physical injury go hand-in-hand. Depending on the activity, common injuries range from bruised knees and strained muscles to fractured limbs and blown knees. Some sports, like boxing or wrestling, put full focus on incapacitating your opponent and often require competitors to deal out serious damage to achieve victory. Other sports that put a hefty strain on a person’s body can wear them down, leading to possibly less serious injuries over the long-term of that person’s sporting career. On the whole, injuries are extremely serious in the world of sports, and can put a person out of commission for several weeks, an entire season, or even the rest of that person’s life. Baseball, America’s long-standing pastime, is a good example of a seemingly non-dangerous sport that is, in fact, rife with the threat of injury.
Many people may be surprised to learn that the baseball players at highest risk are predominantly pitchers. So, what’s dangerous about throwing a ball back and forth for an hour or two, especially considering other players on the team are sprinting around the outfield and leaping for fly balls? The truth of the matter is, any sharp or jarring physical activity poses a threat to a person’s health regardless of how physically conditioned said player may be. As a result, while pitching for a few hours at a time does not appear physically demanding to spectators, every time the guy on the mound throws a 93 mph fastball, his elbow’s integrity is compromised. Eventually, all it will take is a sharp twist or wild pitch to blow out the player’s elbow.
Pitchers, on the whole, account for more upper-body injuries than any other type of player in Major League Baseball. The most common type of injury that a pitcher may receive is a moderate elbow strain. However, more severe injuries are not unheard of; thigh sprains, torn ankles and shoulder fractures are also very common for pitchers, fielders and base runners alike. Statistics show that upper extremity (hand, wrist and arm) injuries outweigh lower extremity (leg and foot) injuries at a rating of around 45%. Additionally, the upper extremity injury category is dominated by pitchers and the lower category by fielders, respectively. This is likely due to increased movement in the lower area of the body for a person who is out on the field.
In summary, injuries are definitely not to be taken lightly in any sporting activity. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of injuries in sports, particularly those acquired mid-game, is the raw spirit and resilience of the competitors themselves. In 2004, Curt Shilling, the Red Sox’s starting pitcher for the 2004 World Series, discovered that his right sock was tainted with blood in the middle of the team’s second game. The tendon in his ankle had been injured during the postseason, and although it had been sutured twice, it was never given time and rest to completely heal. Despite his injured ankle, however, Curt Shilling endured and pitched an excellent game. The Red Sox went on to win the World Series in that year, and if it hadn’t been for Curt’s decision hold fast on the pitcher’s mound, the team may not have made it through. The spirit of the game present within these extraordinary players is truly inspiring.
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