What’s with all the knee-clutching theatrics in professional sports as of late?
Back track to Paul Pierce during Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Boston. Sprawled on the court grabbing his knee late in the third quarter—Boston’s title hopes laying in the balance—Pierce seemingly looked done for the series.
His dramatic return after being carried from the court and wheeled down the hallway in a wheelchair will go down as historic among all the other memorable Celtics-Lakers games in their rich histories, but should it?
It looked comparable to a soccer player being carried off on a stretcher—only to substitute back in moments later and look no worse for the wear.
Pierce would check back in less than two minutes later—soaking up all the drama that came with it—and subsequently drain back-to-back three-pointers to give his team a lead they would never relinquish.
And then there is Tiger. Surely three months was enough time to recover from common arthoscopic surgery in which dozens of hockey and football players go through every year.
Normally the player in question is back in four-six weeks, and those are in heavy contact sports.
In Tiger’s case, we’re talking golf. The only risk of physical contact in this sport is if you’re playing ahead of John Daly and he gets impatient on the tee.
Some would call Tiger’s performance this past weekend at the U.S. Open courageous or maybe even legendary. But if he was really doing that much damage to his knee, would doctors allow him to be out there?
The guy is the second-most powerful celebrity (next to Oprah). There are too many people relying on his good health to risk having him out there if his career was at stake.
I’m not suggesting the pain he’s experiencing isn’t real, but the drama that unfolds every time he rips a tee shot appears to be a bit overdone. The clenched-teeth grimaces make for great TV, but c’mon Tiger, I’m not buying it.
Even so, you can’t deny the guy can do amazing things with a golf club. He dominates his individual sport more than any other athlete on the planet can attest to.
There are others who are close (Roger Federer?), but he truly is at another level.
Obviously, all sports have their “divers” who try to gain an advantage by doing it, whether it draws a penalty or gives their team a much-needed breather. Nevertheless, when a hockey player is carted off on a stretcher or helped off the ice by his trainer and teammates, it’s generally for good reason.
Look no further than some of the biggest incidents over the past few years in the NHL. Boston Bruin Patrice Bergeron, for instance, being levelled head-first into the end boards during a home game against the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this year.
Fast forward to February, when Richard Zednik was sliced on the neck by the skate of Florida Panther teammate Olli Jokinen, but was able to skate himself to the bench despite bleeding profusely.
And in 2006, Carolina Hurricane Erik Cole suffered a crushing hit from behind that broke two vertebrae in his neck, but surprisingly was able to make his return in time for the final two games of the Stanley Cup final after a few months of rehab.
Is it just my imagination or do hockey players tend to have a higher pain threshold than some of their brethren in other professional sports?
I may be inherently biased towards hockey having grown up in Canada, but I do feel like I take an objective look at every sport and do think I could justify this claim.
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