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Thread: Playing through Major Injuries

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    Question Playing through Major Injuries

    I'm not talking the growing pains of a season that you see, sore muscles, bruises, cuts, etc. I'm talking like concussions and other major injuries.

    Why isn't the ISU coming down harder on this? In the NFL you don't get to come back out and play until you get a doctors note saying you are safe and healthy to play. And don't you dare try to hide the injury or you face sanctions! They had three major Quarterbacks last week end up with concussions. Only one is even being considered to play - and at this point it's very questionable.

    However we've read reports that skaters are ignoring their doctors and going out and playing anyway. Yeah, it makes them come out looking brave, but we've seen the ugly on what some of these injuries - when compounded - can do to a person.

    In the case of the NFL they are employing studies to make sure fewer of these injuries happen - it's a violent sport so they see more of them, but still the NFL, not individual teams, is being proactive in this. In skating, we've seen federations talk about and come down on a skater who skated injured and did badly - but they aren't coming down on them for the right reason (IMO). The NFL is working to make equipment and rules to fit the players to make sure they aren't zombies (or worse) by the time they're 40. I don't see this sort of pro-activeness on a federation level, much less from the governing body. Isn't it something in their best interest for their sport?

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    Off the ice Buttercup's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tonichelle View Post
    I'm not talking the growing pains of a season that you see, sore muscles, bruises, cuts, etc. I'm talking like concussions and other major injuries.

    Why isn't the ISU coming down harder on this? In the NFL you don't get to come back out and play until you get a doctors note saying you are safe and healthy to play. And don't you dare try to hide the injury or you face sanctions! They had three major Quarterbacks last week end up with concussions. Only one is even being considered to play - and at this point it's very questionable.

    However we've read reports that skaters are ignoring their doctors and going out and playing anyway. Yeah, it makes them come out looking brave, but we've seen the ugly on what some of these injuries - when compounded - can do to a person.

    In the case of the NFL they are employing studies to make sure fewer of these injuries happen - it's a violent sport so they see more of them, but still the NFL, not individual teams, is being proactive in this. In skating, we've seen federations talk about and come down on a skater who skated injured and did badly - but they aren't coming down on them for the right reason (IMO). The NFL is working to make equipment and rules to fit the players to make sure they aren't zombies (or worse) by the time they're 40. I don't see this sort of pro-activeness on a federation level, much less from the governing body. Isn't it something in their best interest for their sport?
    I suspect skaters and the federations can procure a doctor's note, if they are so inclined.

    I think there are several things at play here:

    * Skating is not a contact sport, unlike football. So aggravating an injury or worsening one's condition by being hit again is unlikely.
    * With so few events, skaters are in dire need of points and season's best scores, and sometimes cash prizes. The way the system is set up, missing events mean you lose ranking points, and if you lose enough of them, you will skate in earlier groups at future events. Also, when you have so few opportunities to compete, and you've been training so hard and so long, it is hard to let go.
    * If you're from a strong skating country, sitting out events can mean that others might pass you. Actually, this is also true in general because judges can become more enamored of your competitors while you're recovering on the sidelines.
    * Some of the federations appear to care more about results than the athletes' long-term health. Why Pang and Tong are still skating GPs is a mystery to me, considering the state of their knees.
    * More controversially maybe: I think anti-doping efforts may be to blame to some extent. Because there are so many banned substances, athletes often have to train and compete while sick and in pain. From there, it's easy to make the leap to "competing in worse pain/while ill is no big deal".

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    and... World Peace! Tonichelle's Avatar
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    There are still freak accidents and injuries we know that are serious happening every year, and those are just the publicized ones. You make good points and while I agree they still place all responsibility on the skater or give reasoning as to why they do it...

    But what about the ISU's responsibility? They could come down hard on skaters like Nan Song who could physically harm themselves with a concussion etc. He didnt need to run into someone to rehurt himself. Just another fall in his condition. He knowingly ignored drs orders according to the media reports - how is that wise? Once youve been concussed it becomes easier for it to happen again and more dangerous.

    The ISU could sanction skaters/the federations for allowing the skater to endanger themselves. Yeah it means they miss out on the possibility of winning money/points but that's not any different than any other sport. (Mushing events have stricter health rules on their athletes, too... It doesnt hurt the sport it helps it!)

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    I think Song's case raises concern - it's not just falling either, I mean - how can the spinning be good for a concussion? But, at the same time, his case does seem on the rare side of things in terms of concussions (at least that we know of). But, the broader point of risking long term injury and/or competing and practicing while in very serious pain is something that troubles me a lot.

    It does seem like a very tricky question though - what is the limit for healthy vs non-healthy? who decides and verifies (federations, ISU?)....

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    I think we dont hear about half of the injuries (at least) that the skaters get/have. I don't know how hard it is to regulate, but there are models out there that the ISU could follow as a jumping off point.

    For a simplified look I'd play it out looking at the nfl model (mainly because ive heard so much about it lately)

    The federations are like the football teams, they report all injuries to the ISU. If the federations dont they are sanctioned (nfl fines teams and players). How the feds sanction their skaters is up to them.

    Not only does it benefit the skaters to be healthy - it would help the events themselves because you wont have the lackluster skates brought on by injury ( you still have the potential for a splatfest but they cant then say oh my knee is outta whack at the end to make the audience feel cheated out of the best show possible. )

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    But that's a team sport - doesn't that make things rather different? I don't know anything about NFL, but I suppose they have substitutes ready to go - and one person being off, no matter, how crucial, or how much a star player, there will always be far more workarounds, and far more support for the injured player? There is consequently also, I believe, far less incentive to go on playing while injured. I'm thinking of football/soccer myself - and true, I remember Zidane playing on after he had his shoulder dislocated - he just, stoically waved at someone to come and set it. But that was the WC final, and his last match ever anyway. (Though that whole thing ended in tears - don't remind me of that WC - just don't! - shudders (And yes, I was the one who mentioned it - so? I certainly never claimed to be reasonable all the time. ) So, it was an exceptional case. Otherwise players are generally subbed immediately (unless they're already had their three allowed substitutions), and don't come back until they're healthy. So far as I know. But then, I only watch football every second year. (Euros & Worlds.)

    But aren't skaters far more on their own?

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    A concussion is a concussion no matter if it's a team sport or an individual one. And, no, you can't just sub a key player - like a Quarterback - and it be just the same. Far far far from it.

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    I wonder to what extent it's the ISU's job to regulate "playing through" injuries. I wonder how realistic it is for the NFL model to be adapted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ImaginaryPogue View Post
    I wonder to what extent it's the ISU's job to regulate "playing through" injuries. I wonder how realistic it is for the NFL model to be adapted.
    as I said several other sports also have similar models - not all of them team sports...

    the NFL is to football what the ISU is to skating, though, so I don't see why the ISU couldn't adapt a model to fit. Do you want to promote endangering athletes just for 2 seconds of glory, or do you want to promote responsible sportsmanship?

    And, come to think of it, with the introduction of the "team event" you do have that "team" ideal...

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    My argument is more the fact that the NFL is a professional, money making entity moreso than ISU. Are there "amateur" sports with a similar model? How much power does the ISU wield vs the NFL over the participants? I'm pretty confident that the lowest ranked NFL player makes more money than everyone figure skating except Kim and Plushenko, so how much authority can the organization have when it's participants are more paying to play than the reverse?

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    The fact that Song was injured in practice shows that while figure skating is not a team sport, it can be a contact sport. For pairs skaters and ice dancers, it is indeed a contact sport and some horrific injuries have occurred to pair skaters and ice dancers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckm View Post
    The fact that Song was injured in practice shows that while figure skating is not a team sport, it can be a contact sport. For pairs skaters and ice dancers, it is indeed a contact sport and some horrific injuries have occurred to pair skaters and ice dancers.
    that's my feeling. you don't need a wall of defensive players to get some serious injuries!

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    Was it really Song who wanted to participate or was it his coach/federation? Any coach with brains won't let their pupils compete or practice if it's against doctor's orders. Spinning and rotating fast will probably be-late Song's recovery from the concussion or even harm him more. You could see after Song's skate that he wasn't OK.

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    If a skater is being pressured by the federation or coach to skate injured thats all the more reason for the ISU to have a set of rules in place to protect the athletes from this sort of thing.

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    I think this subset of Buttercup's points are especially important to keep in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buttercup View Post
    * With so few events, skaters are in dire need of points and season's best scores, and sometimes cash prizes. The way the system is set up, missing events mean you lose ranking points, and if you lose enough of them, you will skate in earlier groups at future events. Also, when you have so few opportunities to compete, and you've been training so hard and so long, it is hard to let go.
    * If you're from a strong skating country, sitting out events can mean that others might pass you. Actually, this is also true in general because judges can become more enamored of your competitors while you're recovering on the sidelines.
    * Some of the federations appear to care more about results than the athletes' long-term health. Why Pang and Tong are still skating GPs is a mystery to me, considering the state of their knees.
    There are several potential scenarios in which a ban on competing injured could be applicable. How would it apply in each of these cases?

    *Skater is in pain, may or may not have consulted one or more doctors, but does not have a diagnosis.
    *Skater knows what is wrong and has been cleared by doctors to continue training and competing
    *Skater knows what is wrong and has been advised to stay off the ice or to take it easy for a period of time beyond the next competition.
    *Doctors have forbidden the skater to skate, or the nature of the ailment or treatment is such that it is physically impossible to put on skates and stroke on the ice, much less perform advanced skills.

    *The skater wants to compete but coach, federation, and/or ISU don't want them to, purely out of concern for the skater's health.
    *The skater wants to compete but coach, federation, and/or ISU don't want them to, primarily to benefit another skater who would replace the injured skater or who is more likely to place well if the (slightly) injured skater is absent.
    *The skater does not want to compete but the skater's federation wants them to because they have no one else capable of performing as well as that skater even when injured.
    *The skater does not want to compete but the host federation, TV networks, ISU, do want them to appear, e.g., because they are famous enough to attract paying crowds.

    *The skater and federation know about the injury and relative advisability of competing enough in advance of the competition that an alternate could be brought in.
    *The skater and federation know about the injury and relative advisability of competing when it's too late to bring in a replacement -- any time from a week before when it's too late to make travel/visa arrangements for an alternate up to the warmup for the short program.
    *The injury occurs off ice or during practice at the competition venue (or during the short program), so there is time for a medical examination including a trip to the local hospital if needed before the competition.
    *The injury occurs during the warmup, and the skater is still able and willing to skate; there is time only for a quick medical evaluation.
    *The injury occurs during the program -- the skater may stop for a few seconds to evaluate his/her condition and then tries to continue the program.

    Who gets to make the decision to pull the skater from competition in each of these situations? Is there any mechanism for the skater to appeal, in time to compete (or to complete a program stopped by a referee), in case the person/committee making the decision was being over cautious and/or political beyond any medical expertise they might or might not have access to?


    Then there's the other situation of a skater who doesn't feel up to competing but is pressured by the federation to do so. Can any sort of higher (ISU?) authority protect them from punishment by their own federation if they refuse to skate?
    Last edited by gkelly; 11-20-2012 at 10:27 AM.

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