Written by Tim Hoffstaetter
People and especially athletes get injured a lot and the severity ranges greatly from little bruises and bumps to broken bones and muscle tears. The severity of the injury most often determines the treatment for the injury, some injuries even require surgery to fix and then physical therapy to help the rehabilitation. Surgery means that your body was hurt so badly your body is not capable of naturally healing itself, this means the injury was severe, and often means that the injured area will never return to its original capabilities.
There are many examples of athletes and people choosing to not have surgery and instead choose the pain management route and further down the line require more surgeries because of the damage done. We also see athletes who choose to have the surgery right away instead of waiting and potentially damaging the injured area even more. I am not here to say that either idea is a bad idea, rather I want people to think of athletes as humans and have them do what’s best for them and not necessarily the team.
A very recent example of this and as of writing a decision has not been made for this player but Joel Embiid is currently faced with this decision. Embiidhas a displaced meniscus in his left knee and could either rehab and play or have surgery and shut it down for the season. This is a very tough decision especially for Embiid as many people have criticized his play during the postseason for not being as dominant but then every year we find out he is battling an injury and is not playing at his best due to serious injuries. We have seen Embiid and others try to play through injuries and require surgery later, sometimes these surgeries after playing on injured areas can be career-ending or career-threatening.
For example, Tiger Woods in 2008 had knee surgery to help repair his ACL six weeks later he won the U.S. Open but then only a week later he required another surgery. Tiger Woods is an athlete who has dealt with 18 serious injuries either requiring surgery, physical therapy, or both from 1994-2018. That is 18 injuries in 23 years and this is still an ongoing issue today, he is an athlete who was at the very top of the competition for a few years before his injuries and remained competitive but we never saw Woods stop and truly recover and return to dominance, was it worth it for Woods, will it be worth for Woods as he continues to age?
Another example of this is Kevin Durant in his last year at Golden State where he was rushed back to the NBA Finals coming off of a calf injury with only 4 weeks of rest and rehabilitation and in his first game back he tore his Achilles which is connected to the calf. Would it have been better for Durant as a player to truly recover and not play in the finals at all or rush back to play and end up becoming more injured? We saw an example of the opposite with Jamal Murray, a guard from Denver who chose not to play in the regular season and postseason in 2022-2023. Murray was cleared to play with about 10-15 games left in the regular season and his team made the playoffs but he chose to sit to recover. The next year when he was healthy he and the Denver Nuggets won the championship after losing in the first round the year prior. Did Murray make the right choice by recovering could Denver have won the championship the year before with him as well as last year, this is just all speculation but an example of an athlete putting his health before that of the teams’ success.