Friday, November 28, 2014

Shake it off, it's only a head injury

There is a lot of emphasis on sports injuries lately, specifically concussions.
When I was a young lad playing hockey, no one was ever concussed.
There was no such thing as a concussion. Instead of a medically proven head injury, we had our 'bell rung.'
That is the old-school term for getting clobbered. I had my bell rung several times growing up and not once did I see a doctor for it.
Why would I? It was just part of the game. At some point or another everybody had their bell rung. It was just an accepted part of playing sports.
You would spend a few minutes on the bench before the coach would send you out again – even if you thought his name was Susan and you were Princess Eggbert of the Flibber People.
You shook it off and kept playing, everyone did.
I have lost touch with most of the guys I played hockey with so I do not know if they are experiencing any long-term consequences from having their bells rung. I hope not.
We used to play with all sorts of injuries – sprained knees, sore back, sore neck, cranial disharmony from taking a shot to the noggin.
At the time, it seemed very important that we play, no matter what.
I didn't really understand why. This was minor hockey where even if you are the best team in the league all you get is a little trophy and some bragging rights.
Not a great trade for a lifelong nagging injury.
It just goes to show how competitive some people are, even on a minor league scale. They are willing to risk permanent injury just to win a game.
The coaches were also willing to risk my permanent injury just to win a game, but being young and not too bright, you wanted to keep the coach happy because you looked up to him so you played regardless of what hurt.
Looking back, it seems kind of stupid.
Perhaps if you have a shot at the pros it would be worth it to play through the pain, but really, when you are 15 years old playing tier one hockey, the NHL is a long ways away but the injuries are immediate.
I don't have a competitive bone in my body, but I played hockey for many years because that is just what you did. Everyone I knew played hockey – so I played hockey too.
And I got hurt and I played through the pain – just like everyone else.
Now that I am older and wiser I encourage youngsters to take the time to heal. So you miss a few games or practice sessions, big deal. At least you won't be hobbling like Quasimodo when you are 50.
I tell that to all the pups at my martial arts club as well, but like most youngsters they are full of machismo and don't listen.
I didn't listen to 'old people' when I was their age. Why would I? I knew everything there was worth knowing and I knew the pain I felt would soon go away and it was no big deal.
And I was right. It was no big deal, until the years started to pile on, then all those injuries I ignored started to become problems.
But all my physical woes can not be blamed on the stupidity of youth. I made some pretty stupid choices for many years as a full-grown, mature adult for which I am now paying the price.
Hey, I never claimed to be the brightest in the bunch.
Now if you will excuse me, I believe the Flibber People are calling.

Copyright 2014 Darren Handschuh

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