Athletes recovering from sports injuries face many challenges, but are still excited to get back in the game.

Robert Blaine, Reporter

Injuries are a major problem in sports of all levels. They can ruin the dreams of high school and college student-athletes and ruin the careers of professionals. As such, injuries are becoming a major concern throughout the sports world. Just how devastating can an injury be to an athlete’s career or life?

Senior Ryan Alt offered a personal anecdote about his ankle injury. “I was told that [my ankle] would take 12 weeks to fully heal, and it was just sprained. Even something as small as that was very disruptive in my life, so a more serious injury could permanently devastate someone.”

To respond to concerns about safety, many professional leagues have made preventing injury a top priority

The National Football League has stepped up its policy of protecting players in recent years. Newer rules prohibit head-to-head collisions, which were often responsible for concussions. These changes are unsurprising following “Bountygate,” a scandal that broke in 2012 in which New Orleans Saints players were allegedly paid to injure opposing players, and considering that former-NFL players have one of the highest suicide rates among all occupations. This is coming just years after many new regulations were put in place to limit the contact that defenders could make with defenseless offensive skill position players.

“The NFL is doing everything it can to protect players, but unfortunately [injuries are] just a part of the game,” said junior Neil Shah.

Injury problems aren’t just rampant in professional football. For example, former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand was paralyzed making a tackle on special teams. Fortunately, LeGrand has actually regained some movement and aspires to walk again, even after doctors told him he would never be able to walk again.

Paralysis is not the biggest concern either. Death has even been an issue in college and high school with about 12 players dying playing football each year.

Football may not even be the worst sport concerning injuries, though. In hockey, blood is a common site and fighting is encouraged by the fans. In fact, the National Hockey League actually records statistics and has official league leaders in fights. The NHL has experienced many near deaths just from accidental blows from skate blades no less intentional shots.

“Fighting is one of the most appealing things about hockey to many fans,” commented junior Zahra Abdulhussein. The allure to fans is also one of the main reasons it likely won’t fade away from the game.

Racecar driving may actually be the most dangerous of all sports. NASCAR has 52 deaths from racing-related activities in its 64 year existence, including possibly its most famous driver Dale Earnhardt in 2001. Unfortunately, the risk is not even limited to the participants. Even fans or race officials can be injured or killed by a driver losing control of a car.

Injuries may be a major problem in all sports, but injuries also provide some of the best story lines. Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose is set to return from an ACL tear after a yearlong hiatus. The NBA also provides the storyline of Greg Oden. Oden had been beset by numerous injuries in his short career since being drafted first overall by the Portland Trail Blazers. After multiple microfracture surgeries, Oden is likely going to be able to return to the court for the first time in over three years as a member of the defending champion Miami Heat.

Many in the NBA compared Oden to another former Trail Blazers’s big and second overall pick in 1984, Sam Bowie. Bowie’s career infamously spiraled out following numerous injuries. Bowie, once a great prospect, is ultimately remembered for being the guy drafted just ahead of Michael Jordan.