COMMENTARY: Derrick Rose and Mariano Rivera, I feel your pain – Meriden Record
I feel bad for Derrick Rose and Mariano Rivera in a way that I’ve never really felt for a professional athlete.
I actually know what they’re going through.
A couple weeks ago, it was announced that Rose, star point guard for the Chicago Bulls, would miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the fourth quarter of a playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Rivera, often referred to as the greatest closer of all time for the New York Yankees, tore his ACL last Thursday during batting practice before a game.
I tore my mine back in February. I only just had it fixed a couple weeks ago on April 17. Needless to say, the process and rehabilitation has been brutal. If you watch sports, especially football, you know how common, yet severe, a torn ACL is. It’s an automatic season-ending injury. And if you’ve ever so much as tweaked your knee in the wrong direction, you know how painful knee injuries are. Anybody who has gone through one will tell you.
I’ve never been injured so severely. The worst I’ve had is a really badly sprained ankle, or a fracture in my pinky finger that I didn’t even know was broken until a month later. Dealing with this level of injury gives you a new appreciation for everything these athletes go through. And, being a female, I’m scared out of my pants that the odds of me re-injuring myself are considerably higher than for a male.
I thought I was pretty strong to start out with. I lifted weights at the gym, played sports regularly, and I always played hard, finding myself on the ground plenty of times, taking all the bumps and bruises that come with being an athlete, whether professionally, or just as a weekend warrior.
It does make you think, however, when you hurt yourself in a meaningless backyard flag football game. Even better, having it be a non-contact injury. I couldn’t even describe the pain I felt when it happened, but suffice it to say that when you hear something go “pop” followed by a shooting and malicious pain, it never adds up to a good thing.
When a football player goes down and he looks hurt, a viewer’s first reaction might be “Get up!” thinking he needs to play so the team can win, or so fantasy points can be earned. I admit I am guilty of this knee-jerk (no pun intended) reaction myself. It only seems to be when a player gets carried off on a stretcher that we truly become concerned for his well-being as a human. Anything less than that and it’s just a matter of, “How long will he be out for?”
It’s not often that we take into account the actual pain and suffering these athletes have to go through, especially if you can’t appreciate it from your own experience. To the viewer, we almost see it as, “It’s their job, they get paid to do this,” so when they get hurt, we assume it is just one of the many dangers and risks of the occupation.
I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who care more about the human than the statistics associated with his name. I just have the benefit of hindsight, knowing how I thought before injury, and knowing how I will think now, after going through (and continuing to go through) something some of us have almost become desensitized to in the sports world.
Next time you see an athlete go down, try not to think fantasy points or whether or not it will affect the team’s ability to win. Think of it as a human being going through pain and anguish, because that’s what it is, and that’s what it always has been. I just never really understood until now.
Julie Sopchak is editor of The Southington Citizen.