Enough is enough
With the recent revelations that Sydney Crosby’s concussion symptoms were in large part thanks to broken vertebrae in his neck, debate has switched from when the NHL superstar would return to the ice to if he should return at all.
There has to be a point when overall health takes precedence over performance.
SAIT Trojans head athletic therapist Kim Sweeney has the difficult task of assessing injuries and informing athletes as to the risks associated with continuing on in sports after sustaining a substantial injury.
“I educate players on going down the path of repeated injury,” said Sweeney. “If you continue to get injuries that affect you on a day-to-day basis I have the players think and decide when enough is enough.”
“It’s hard because the athletes have to go through it themselves, it becomes a loss of identity for them. That is what they do, and that is what they are known for and to give that up, it is hard for them.”
This is something Robert Nocera knows all too well.
The Trojans men’s hockey star was forced to hang-up his skates after suffering multiple concussions. Nocera was the leading scorer at the time for the Trojans but ultimately made the call that quality of life meant more than competing on the ice, and he is now forced to try and carve a new identity for himself off of the ice.
“You have to think more about your health, for me I just want to make sure that I’m healthy,” said Nocera. “When you’re an athlete you get perceived in a certain way, and you start thinking that yourself as well. As of right now it’s hard for me because I’ve been hockey focused for my whole life, now I’m taking it one step at a time and eventually I’ll start re-defining myself when I get healthy.”
Trojan men’s hockey head coach, Ken Babey believes it’s a coach’s responsibility to take care of the health of their players, but acknowledged that injuries are a known risk to those who compete in sports.
“If you’re going to play sports, you may not have a life that isn’t filled with some kind of injury or soreness – I think that’s part of athletics in general,” said Babey. “Health always comes first.”
In sports there is an unspoken code that athletes play hurt, and that being hurt is different than being injured, and often athletes will try and hide their injuries or downplay the severity of them in order to get back out to the game.
“Athletes need to know that it’s in their best interest to take the time and let their body heal,” said Sweeney.
Athletes need to know that in the grand scheme of things – health is more important. No trophy can substitute for a healthy life.