By Kyra Welker
“Are you hurt, or are you injured?” This is a saying that is often heard by Lady Kings basketball Coach, Kelly Smith. Injuries are severe and can keep athletes out for a long period of time, while being hurt means you are able to continue to play. Aside from the physical aspect of being sick, sickness during a sports season comes with a lot of mental adversity.
“My mind gives up before my body does, and I definitely let that affect my ability to practice while I’m sick,” says Lady Kings basketball player Alexis Biggerstaff.
You have a choice as an athlete, you can choose to work through the sickness, or you can take time off, potentially hurting your team. Biggerstaff draws the line at, “You’re too sick to play when you’re doing more harm to your team than you are helping them get better.” On this issue of injuries Smith said, “The players know their bodies best, so if the doctors are involved at all they don’t play.”
If doctors are not involved it’s not solely up to the Coach to determine whether the player is fit to continue to play.
“It’s mostly up to the kid and the parents, but the rule is if you’re there to play you’re there to go 100%,” said Smith.
In the state of Alaska, coaches are required to take three accredited interscholastic courses every three years to maintain certification of their position: Fundamentals of Coaching, Concussion in Sports, and First Aid, and Health and Safety For Coaches. These courses help coaches understand when to accommodate to their sick or injured players, and when to draw the line of letting them play.
Smith said the required classes are, “day to day stuff you do all the time, things you just forget about it and how to put it into words. It’s a good reminder.”
There is pressure as an athlete to come back from an injury as fast as possible. A study done by Safe Kids Worldwide shows that 42% of adolescent athletes have hidden or downplayed an injury so they can keep playing.
Sylvan Blankenship, senior cross country runner for Kayhi, has experienced the pressure of coming back from an injury.
“I wasn’t pressured by other people to come back. It was more of me pressuring myself. I injured my ankle last soccer season, and I came back too soon. I ended up hurting myself again, and being out for a longer period of time,” said Blankenship. “I pushed myself, and I did a lot of physical therapy so I thought I was ready when I came back early. My advice [to injured athletes] is to not come back too soon, take it easy, it’ll help you in the long run.”
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 11 million visits were made to physicians’ offices in 2005 due to an ankle related injury in sports.
As well as injury, sickness affects high school athletes. Dealing with sickness on the team can be difficult.
“Once they leave it’s out of my control, we talk about managing your time the best you can because usually rundown people get sick,” said Smith.
The Marshfield Clinic suggests that you use your body as your guide. It will tell you if you are doing too much. If you are feeling miserable, give your body a break and that you should use the break time to focus on good nutrition and drinking large amounts of fluids such as water and electrolyte replacement drinks.
According to Biggerstaff, the best way to prevent injury and sickness during season is by washing your hands, and getting enough sleep.