So, Whaddya Think?
My Opinion: Sports Benefits Outweigh the Risks
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
I was eighteen when I had my traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a car accident in 1985. I was brought back to life once. I was in a coma for fifty days. I was in a wheelchair for one and a half years. I have memory problems. My body drew up into a fetal position. It took seven years of painful surgery and therapy and close to thirty procedures to straighten my legs, feet, arms, and hands. Thirty years later, my claw-shaped right hand looks like it has rheumatoid arthritis, but I use it. I write with that hand and walk with a cane in it. Three years after my accident, I went back to college. It took three years of difficult work to get my first Associate Degree and two years for a second in Mechanical Drafting, AutoCAD. I worked fifteen difficult years doing AutoCAD. Not one day since my accident has been easy for me. I am proud of what I accomplished, and I hope my story will be an inspiration to others.
I know personally how tragic it is if a person gets hurt or killed accidentally, but that’s life. I don’t want to seem like life does not matter to me – because it does. (My life now is precious to me. I cherish each moment I have with family or friends. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people, whom I never would have met otherwise, have blessed my life.) I am not heartless; I am very compassionate. I cry when I hear a tragic story of any kind. I know what life is. I know what death is. And I know what pain and suffering are.
I played three years of high-school football. Many guys were much bigger than I was, and I was fortunate not to get hurt. It was my third year of driving when I had my accident. Throughout my recovery, I looked back at the grueling football practices, and they inspired me to go forward. What a sport does is teach sportsmanship, pride, respect, and loyalty, and it inspires one to do better.
Should I never ride in a car or even drive again because somebody has gotten hurt in a car accident? A baseball player may get hit in the head by a pitch, but now players have helmets to protect them. (There isn’t protective headwear in basketball, volleyball, tennis, or soccer, but maybe there should be.) Thousands of people end up in Emergency Rooms or even in morgues because they fall while walking and hit their head. Should every man, woman, and child wear a helmet simply to walk? It seems just as foolish to end all athletics.
So, Whaddya Think?
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