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Is It Worth It?

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Is It Worth It?

Student athletes face the realities of sports-related injuries and concussions at the school.

Student athletes face the realities of sports-related injuries and concussions at the school.

Photo by Grace Yarrow

Student athletes face the realities of sports-related injuries and concussions at the school.

Photo by Grace Yarrow

Photo by Grace Yarrow

Student athletes face the realities of sports-related injuries and concussions at the school.

Alejandro Paredes and Emma Hughes

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She was running to catch a pop-fly that would have been the last out of the game when everything suddenly went black. Emily Hart, 10 recalls her traumatic experience of getting a concussion one day when playing first base at a softball tournament. She woke up sprawled on the ground with people hovering over her and asking different questions: “What day is it?” “What is your name?” She had blacked out, lost consciousness, and could not remember the events of the last few minutes. The catcher had collided with her and Hart’s braces shredded the catcher’s cheek. An ambulance came, but she was diagnosed with only a  minor concussion and wasn’t brought to the hospital. After she returned home, Hart began to throw up and the room had started to spin. She went to the emergency room and learned that she had a concussion and had to stop all intense physical activity for a week. Injuries sustained over the season push athletes to question whether being committed to sports is truly worth the risk, especially when high investments are made to prevent life-changing injuries.

Fall and winter sports teams during this school year have accounted for a total of 28 concussions: 15 for football, three for cheerleading, two for volleyball, four for girls soccer, two for boys basketball, and two for wrestling. Concussions are common occurrences for student athletes who play sports involving contact with other players. Teams in the past have invested significant amounts of money in reducing these high numbers at any means. Given the consistently substantial amount of concussions and injuries within the football team, the Casa Grande Football Foundation purchased VICIS ZERO1 helmets for each player for $1,000 per helmet. However, the helmets didn’t make the change that Denis Brunk, the head coach of the varsity football team, had expected when he said he wanted the safest equipment for every football player. Heather Campbell, the teacher for the Sports Medicine program, expressed her feedback on the effects of these helmets about one year later.

“There’s a lot of stuff out there. I can tell you just from my little small research; we had the same amount of concussions on the football team as we did as the previous year with the Vicis [helmets],” said Campbell. “In my opinion, did the VICIS make a difference, no, but that’s just from our little study. The premise behind VICIS from the research I have done is that it slows down the g-force and the g-force is what causes your brain to move in your skull. I am not convinced there is a helmet as of yet [that can minimize concussions]. Most medical people would agree with me.”

Sports consume many students’ free time and with the possibility of getting injured the question of why students play often arises. On top of the weight from school, and social life, sports can contribute to unwanted and unnecessary stress and pressure. Feeling obligated to play or win, some students prioritize sports over everything else, including school. Working as hard as they can and pushing themselves past their limits students get injured, making their daily routine more cumbersome. Nevertheless, the risk of injury doesn’t prevent students from playing sports. Ethan Falkenberg, a sophomore wrestler, comments on his sprained ankle.

“I got my injury during a match. My leg got tangled up with my opponents and fell on it. But, I think it’s worth it to play sports because it’s a lot more fun than just sitting around at home even if you have the chance of getting injured. Plus you meet some great friends doing it. We take precautions and coaches are good about taping and things like that to try to prevent further injury, ” said Falkenberg.

Regardless of the risk of spraining your ankle, or dislocating your knee, or even getting a concussion, students on campus are wholeheartedly committed to their sport and do not go unnoticed when they take on these challenges courageously. While others may manipulate the probabilities of receiving an injury as a rebuttal to discourage students from finding their true passion, ultimately the decision to take the risk is up to the student.

“I think if you worry about every little thing, then you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Life is a risk. So you have to just decide,” said Campbell. “You have to have your personal opinion about what’s important to you. I think sports are a risk but does the reward outweigh the risk is what you have to look at.”

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Is It Worth It?