Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Sports Injuries: Un-invention is the Only Answer

There are some things that ought to be un-invented. Now, before I go on, I should point out that there is a critical difference between “un-invented” and “abolished”: the latter means that an existing thing should be done away with and no longer allowed.

The former, on the other hand, means that the thing, concept or institution which had been on some prior occasion been invented should be — perhaps via time travel or mass hypnosis — erased from existence and memory. For certain things, like American Idol and possibly the Electoral College, un-invention is the preferable method because it would sidestep the resistance that would certainly occur were we to attempt abolishment.

What would happen if, for example, we attempted to abolish sports? (“Sports” should be defined as engaging in a physical activity for the purpose of defeating an opponent or opponents. This would set it apart from “exercise,” which is engaging in physical activity for the purpose of looking just that little bit more like a person who could be on the cover of People.)

Attempting to outlaw them would certainly prompt most men and many women to complain that young people need activities such as these, that they are an integral part of the American way of life, and that anyone who disagreed probably burns flags and/or votes for Ralph Nader.

Also, if sports were simply taken away, what would we do with the hole that remained in our lifestyles? Many of us would, out of habit, spend all of Sunday afternoon on the couch staring vacantly at a medium which no longer offers athletic diversions. Others would have to seek our energy releases elsewhere and from even more harmful sources, like Eli Roth movies.

However, if sports were simply un-invented and our lives filled with other wholesome activities, think of the benefits that all of society might enjoy! Un-athletic teenagers would no longer need to feel like second-class citizens in their high schools. Wives and girlfriends would no longer feel the need to decipher the meanings of random phrases (including: “Check your swing!” and "How is that not a foul?!") emanating from the living room outside of their proper context.

Even their male significant others might see the benefits when they realize that they no longer have to explain to said wives and girlfriends why it is that the quarterback has to put his hands there.

Most importantly, if there had never been sports, my ankle would probably not bear such a striking resemblance to a purple volleyball right now.

As children, most males take a liking to sports such as basketball, baseball and soccer, all of which are best practiced in a group of those similar to you in size, age and gender. Most of them actively pursue this sport as a hobby until a certain age, at which point it becomes apparent that they lack talent and/or motivation to continue.

After that point, it simply becomes too hard to organize a group of those who are more or less equal in terms of maturity, anatomical dimensions and chromosomal allotment.

Coincidentally, this time in their lives usually transpires before they will become especially prone to pulling their hamstrings, fracturing their tibias, and tearing their ACL’s. As a result, they will then be content to live out their lives watching other men on TV pull, fracture or tear their various features, all-the-while unbothered, unless that injured man happens to figure prominently into their online fantasy league.

Tennis players such as myself have no such reality-related factors to restrain them. Though we have a much lesser occurrence of injuries related to tackling or being stuck by a five-ounce piece of rubber and leather, tennis players need only a handful of (and sometimes only one) additional players to continue their joint-and-ligament violating ways until well after they’ve become senior citizens.

Continuing to play past our primes is a risk we share with golfers, and tennis carries with it the additional danger of being a real sport.

This year, the second Monday of May was a national holiday in Korea, where I work. If tennis and all other real sports had never been invented, I probably would have spent this particular Monday sleeping in, rather than waking up early to join friends and coworkers at the courts.

My competitive instincts probably wouldn’t have gotten the better of me on that particular Monday, prompting me to leap at a ball just outside my natural wingspan. I probably wouldn’t have landed in such a way that would’ve caused my foot to bend inwards, despite the fact that my shin bone had already called dibs on that direction.

If sports had never existed, I probably wouldn’t have spent that afternoon being carried from the doctor’s office to the x-ray room and back in a wheelchair. I probably wouldn’t have had to spend every night since then undoing the wrapping-and-brace on my left leg so that I could then shower, change into the pants I want to wear the next day, then taking a pain pill and going to sleep.

I most certainly wouldn’t currently be taking my usual rounds in my leg brace, with the toes on my left foot exposed to all the world, having to explain to each and every passer-by what happened.

If sports could be un-invented, I wouldn’t currently be thinking about that day, one or two weeks from now, when the brace can come off for good and I can play again.

So, as you can see, it’s too late for me, just as it’s too late for many other men all around the world. If we have a chance to un-invent this madness, we obviously should go for it.

It’s a slam-dunk.

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