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Archive for Thursday, January 7, 1999

ATHLETES SOMETIMES MUST DECIDE WHETHER TO TRAIN AND COMPETE WHEN INJURED. SPECIAL TO THE JOURNAL-WORLD

January 7, 1999

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No matter what the sport, pain is always an issue. Whether someone is playing baseball and getting scraped knees, or playing football and breaking an ankle, athletes have to deal with injuries.

Many people involved in sports have had at least one painful experience. So what should they do? Should they play through it? Quit for a while? Or should they just take it easy? Most students have their own philosophy on the subject. Some risk being hurt permanently so they can win one game, whereas others sit out too long.

Free State High School sophomore track and cross country standout Ariel Ludwig knows about pain.

During last year's cross country season he pulled both of his hamstrings, but continued to run cross country -- in great pain. It took six agonizing months for his hamstrings to heal. He said he would never ignore pain or medical advice again. He said, "Minor (injuries) you should run through; major (injuries) you should ease off."

Some athletes are lucky enough not to get hurt, but when they do get hurt, it's often something minor.

Brad Pohl, a Free State sophomore who plays many sports including: football, basketball and baseball, could only recall two times he was hurt. In grade school he pulled his hamstring, but not seriously. He played through that even though it irritated him. The only other injury that plagued him was serious finger pain so he went to the doctor. That was the only time he went to the doctor for a sports-related injury.

In most cases, doctors decide whether an athlete should sit out. Avoiding the doctor is one way to keep from being forced to stop playing. Sometimes, though, athletes just can't stay away from a doctor.

So when should an athlete go see a doctor?

"If you think it is bad enough you should go," Pohl said.

When people get hurt, sometimes they are pressured to play through it.

Pohl said in the past he has been pressured by adult figures. Ludwig, however, has a different scenario. He said he's the only one who decides whether he competes.

Athletic injuries don't just happen to student athletes. Cal Ripkin Jr., third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, set a record for most consecutive games played, sometimes playing through pain. Other athletes go on the disabled list when their foot is aching. Many teen-agers like Ludwig and Pohl think professional athletes who play through pain are respectable. They also said that it's wise to sit out, as long as the pros don't take a permanent seat on the disabled list.

-- Chuck Bartz is a sophomore at Free State High School.

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