Sports : Are they helpful or are they hurtful?

Sports have been around for centuries. In every continent, country, and city, some type of physical activity is taking place that qualifies as a “sport”.  According to ESPN, in the United States over 21.5 million kids are playing team sports between the ages of six and seventeen. This number drops significantly as people grow older and the number one reason for this is because of the risk of injury.  Sports have their benefits but they also have physical consequences. They are the cause of many permanent injuries, and sometimes even death, but they also play a huge factor in keeping the population healthy and fit. 

Playing sports means getting exercise and it is a proven fact that exercise keeps the body healthy. Exercising releases endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that reduce the perception of pain and promote positive feelings. It also helps to burn fat, lower stress levels, and stimulate mental health. Playing sports can have a huge effect in a young child’s life. It teaches kids how to be discipline, how to work together, how to be apart of something bigger than themselves, and most of all it teaches kids how to be healthy. In order to succeed in most sports athletes need to be in very good physical shape. This causes them to watch what they eat and develop routines that promote muscle growth and stimulation.

The benefits of sports on an athlete’s body can be seen in every sport. Just about every few months, a story will come out about a professional athlete losing a lot of weight, and the amount it has improved their play. A prime example of this would be US Women’s National Soccer Team star Abby Wambach. When comparing her body from her freshman year of college at the University of Florida, to now one might not even recognize her. She was never big by any means, but the amount of weight she lost over these fifteen years is significant. Being 5’11” she already over powered her opponents, but she decided to make a change in her nutrition and it was obvious. She went from a soccer player, to a ripped and toned athlete, and was even featured in the 2012 ESPN Body Issue. This elevated her play to a whole new level. Because of the increase in her training and nutrition she became faster and stronger allowing her to become even more of a menace on the field. Already a two time Olympic Gold Medalist, 2012 World FIFA player of the year, and the holder of the all time scoring record, Abby claims she will be the fittest she has ever been for the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

Sports also cause a lot of harm to athletes’ bodies. Not only can nagging injuries develop over time that make the simplest of movements for athletes unbearable, but arthritis is usually in almost every elite athlete’s future. Surprisingly, these are considered the “small harms” of playing sports when looking at cases such as Kevin Everett, Kevin Ware, Tyler Kopp, and Alex Newsome. Many people will most likely not know all of these names, but they are prime examples of what harm sports can bring to an athlete no matter their age. Football player, Kevin Everett, was a Tight End for the Buffalo Bills. During their 2007 home opener against the Denver Broncos, he collided head on with another player, and suffered a “life threatening” fracture and dislocation of his cervical spine. Unlike Eric LeGrand, a former Rutgers football player who was paralyzed during a game, Kevin Everett was able to walk again in December of that same year.

Kevin Ware is a name that many people will most likely remember. He was a guard on the Louisville Men’s basketball team, and on March 31, 2013 suffered a visibly disturbing injury. They were playing Duke in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament when he attempted to block a shot, landed on his right leg awkwardly, and clearly broke his tibia.  The bone went through the skin, and was sticking out as he laid on the floor in pain. Although surgery and rehab has allowed him to get back on the court, he has never been able to fully recover mentally and physically, and is no longer on the Louisville basketball team. The harm that was caused by his sport has had a major impact  on his life.

Unlike Kevin Everett and Kevin Ware, Tyler Kopp and Alex Newsome suffered the greatest amount of harm a sport could cause. They were both killed while playing their sport, and were both under the age of thirteen. Twelve year old, Tyler Kopp was a lacrosse player from Brighton, New York who was hit in the chest with a lacrosse ball during a game. The impact of the ball caused his heart to stop immediately. Alex Newsome was eleven years old when he was struck in the head during baseball practice. He was pitching batting practice and a line drive came right at his head. He was standing behind a screen, but his head was not fully protected. He was resuscitated on the field by his coaches, but later died at a nearby hospital that night. Tyler and Alex were killed while playing their sports, showing just how harmful sports can be.

Sports can be extremely beneficial to one’s body, or they can cause an unbelievable amount of harm. When the LSA  Themed Semester of Sport and the University asks the question “how does sport benefit and harm the body?” there is not a solid answer that can be given. Every person is affected differently by sports. Some people can suffer serious injuries that will impact their every day life forever, while others will become the healthiest they have even been. The person, the day, and fate, will decide how someone can be effected by a game, and whether it is helpful or harmful.

Photo: http://www.sbnation.com/2012/8/9/1228326/9-09-2007-kevin-everett-suffers-paralysis

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5 comments

  1. ayoubl · November 11, 2014

    It is interesting to look at case studies of individuals that have been victimized by their sports however, I would have liked to read more about why the LSA theme semester is important regarding these incidents. For instance, what can we take away as a society from these tragedies? Are we, as a society, capable of learning from these cases and evolving? Society has an instinctual desire to hold athletes as God-like figures that we are able to look up to. What happens when these players fall off of their pedestal. Sports can be extremely dangerous for players and it is important that athletes be as protected as possible. While it is nearly impossible to protect them physically on the field, they are able to be protected financially. I think an interesting, but not necessary, idea would be to speak on the compensation players are able to receive for injury as it differs for NCAA and professional athletes. College athletes therefore may be at greater risk to play in that they are less protected from foreseeable injuries. However, all in all this was an interesting blog and the point of injury in sports was very well described.

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  2. prvalera · November 12, 2014

    This is a very interesting and impactful blog post, Your examples of injuries from playing sports and of benefits from playing sports are spot on and give credibility to your post. Sports can be very dangerous and in some cases, as you mentioned, they can be deadly.
    I disagree with you at one point in your blog post when you say that the number one reason of the decrease in the amount of people playing sports when they are older is the risk of injury. I feel that the number one reason is the lack of time or skill in people’s lives. Many people, myself included, do not play sports at the collegiate or even when they are older because they are focused on different things in life.
    Additionally, I had a few questions while reading this blog post. Are there reforms happening in the sports community to help prevent tragedies, for example the deaths of Tyler Kopp and Alex Newsome, from occurring? How do sports influence people in their sixties, seventies, and older? Is it the possibility of injury that attracts so many people to watch and participate in sports?
    I really liked that your blog post described in detail all of the different examples of injury and of being fit. Sports are a wonderful way to get involved within your community and meet new people. I hope everyone gets the opportunity to throw a ball once in their lifetime.

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  3. benlangt · November 12, 2014

    I found this blog to be thought provoking. It seems today injuries are way too prevalent in sporting events. Athletes are sacrificing their bodies in all forms possible to help their team or themselves win. Most athletes understand that every time they participate in a sporting event they risk the chance of injury, but they still participate because they are doing something that they love. Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome injury during the 2013 NCAA Basketball Tournament
    that would make most athletes never want to play basketball again. However, Kevin Ware has persevered through extensive rehab and has returned to the court to play the game he loves. Athletes showcase the mentality of mind over
    matter better than most people.They understand that they are usually playing for something bigger than themselves, like a city or a country. They know that if they do not prepare in the proper manner they will be outplayed by their competition. Sports will continue to be the prime examples of regiment and perseverance.

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  4. lauraucros · November 15, 2014

    I think this blog post does a great job at questioning how good are sports to your body? As prvalera commented earlier, I also disagree with you when you say the risk of injury is the main reason why people lose interest in playing sports ion adulthood. I believe it has more to do with lack of time and shift in the people’s interests and priorities.

    I just wanted to mention something my coach used to say. He would always say “exercise makes you healthier but competitive spots do not”. And I think this is a great point you argument in the post. It is true that doing exercise regularly helps a person stay healthy. But, for competitive sports this is not the case. Sports do help you stay fit and in shape (like you mentioned with the Abby Wambach’s example). But unfortunately in most cases competitive sports harm your body in the long run much more than the benefit they bring. Athletes from all kinds of sports suffer from severe injuries that can be treated at the moment, but eventually will affect their daly life.

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  5. shenwick · November 23, 2014

    I found this very interesting and believe that sports are definitely more beneficial than detrimental. Sports provide children with a way to exercise, promote a healthy lifestyle, and give kids a way to escape bad neighborhoods. The amount of injuries that occur are very minuscule, and it is better to take the risk of getting injured than sitting in your room all day.

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