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Columbus, Ohio


Why injury? It's this simple: more children die from injuries every year than from the next three leading causes of death combined. Nobody knows this because no one is talking about it. In the U.S., one child dies every hour from an injury that could have been prevented. Around the world, a child dies every 30 seconds as the result of an injury. You don’t need to have a child to know that we can do better.


In the News: The Criticism of Derrick Rose

Guest Blogger

Photo credit: "Derrick Rose" by Keith Allison via  Flickr  (license:  CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 )

Photo credit: "Derrick Rose" by Keith Allison via Flickr (license: CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0)

If you’re not a sports fan, you may have missed the conversation happening in the NBA world about how professional athletes should handle injuries. Derrick Rose, a player for the Chicago Bulls, has been criticized for admitting that he considers his long-term health when he gets hurt, which means that he has taken time to sit out and let himself fully recover from injuries that other athletes might play through. Some believe Rose’s actions are justified, but here are some opposing thoughts from the commentators on Fox’s The Players

“Not a championship mindset”

“Not strong leadership”

“Keep your mouth closed”

The message here: Win at all cost—you’re not a champion if you know and respect your limitations to preserve. That kind of criticism can be hard for anyone to take, let alone a kid who’s just trying the best he can, yet I’ve heard similar comments made at youth sporting events my entire life. “Walk it off” is probably the most common injury-related comment in sports today. Every time a young athlete is told to “walk it off,” we are reinforcing the idea that to be a champion, he must ignore what his body is telling him. As a former teammate of Rose’s, Luol Deng, wisely said, “There’s a difference between pain and injury,” but it seems like many in our society would rather have athletes put winning above their well-being.

There’s a difference between pain and injury.
— Luol Deng

So what happens when professional athletes are called out for admitting that winning isn't everything to them? A Safe Kids Worldwide report shows that that mindset trickles down: more than half of the young athletes surveyed had played while injured. Some of the reasons included, “I was needed and couldn’t let the team down,” “I didn’t want to be benched,” and “It was an important game.”

The report also showed that nearly half of the athletes had hidden or downplayed an injury to stay in the game, which actually undermines those athletes' ability to play that sport long-term. Not letting the body heal might lead to a more severe injury that stops them from playing at all. Rose wants to be healthy when play-off time comes around, so resting until he's healthy should be seen as an investment in the team's future. Unfortunately, he suffered another injury when he returned to the court last week, perhaps too soon, under intense public pressure to play.

Where does this attitude come from? Parents, coaches, society, the players themselves?

I don’t have the answer, but from my perspective, it comes down to pressure and shame. Our culture places a high value on winning and being tough, and it seems that acknowledging injury means you’re not a winner or not tough enough. Following the body’s signals that it’s time to rest is considered wimpy and something to overcome rather than respect. Everywhere I look, I see the message that people who don’t sacrifice in big ways don’t get the rewards, and not getting the rewards can make us feel like we’ve failed in some way—if we don’t have the championship trophy, the big contract, the glamorous image, well, then you’re not good enough.

The truth is, it’s pretty unlikely that your kid is going to be a professional athlete, much less the next Derrick Rose, but that won’t insulate her from the public pressure to push past injury to achieve  “greatness.” Yes, there’s a time to challenge one’s physical limitations, but allowing your body to heal from injuries should never mean you’re not a champion.

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