The Wear and Tear of Sports

Nic Gulizia, Editor


At many high schools, including Gunderson, football games are packed under the Friday night lights. Oftentimes, football gathers the most school media attention, attendance, and importance. The sport gets funded the most and also uses the most on equipment and other utilities. 

Many people already know that football can be dangerous when it comes to injuries. Playing it puts you at risk for physical and mental injuries that can have lasting effects. But even with the already high risk for injuries, the risk is still increasing to this day.

One of the more common yet severe injuries in football is the ACL tear. It can put you out of the sport for 8-9 months, according to Dr. Eric McCarty, a UC Health orthopedic surgeon.

The injury grabs more attention than other injuries from coaches and players, considering one simple non-contact pop can end an athlete’s entire season. Other injuries can be returned from in the same season, but with the ACL, it’s nearly impossible due to the length of rehab. For those trying to get recognized by scouts and get offers to play college football, an ACL tear can throw those chances out the window.

Athletes can lower the chances of tearing their ACL, just like any other injury. However, there’s still a risk, as it won’t be completely prevented. 

In order to figure out how to prevent ACL tears, identifying what’s causing the injury comes first. 

For starters, studies have shown that a natural grass playing field reduces the chances of an ACL tear. However, an artificial turf alternative has been proven to cause more injuries. 

The University Hospitals Sports Medicine Institute conducted a study to determine whether artificial turf did indeed cause more ACL injuries. The results showed that athletes were 58% more likely to injure themselves playing on artificial turf as opposed to natural grass, and ACL tears were more common as well. 

A big fix to preventing injuries on the field would be for high schools to switch back to natural grass rather than playing on turf.

On the other hand, grass is harder to maintain, so that might not be the most reasonable option. Athletes also can’t control if that change is made or not. They can control what they do on their own to prevent injuries. Taking care of your body is important as an athlete.

Dr. Marx, an orthopedic surgeon at HSS, specializing in ACL reconstruction and knee surgery, claims that these non-contact ACL injuries can be prevented through exercises focusing on balance, strength, and plyometrics. Plyometrics is a form of jump training, using speed and force to build strength and power. Adding knee strength and durability can allow athletes to not have to worry as much about an ACL injury ruining their season.

The ACL is a common injury, and it’s not just one that keeps you out for a few weeks and then you’re back in action. Recovery can last for up to a year, and no athlete wants to willingly be without their passion for an entire year. Not only does it keep you out of the sport you love playing, but it can also hinder the chances of someone receiving an offer that they may need to compete at the next level of football.