On Monday night, in the second half of the Denver Nuggets’ loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Nuggets’ star guard, Jamal Murray, went up for a layup, landed awkwardly and crumpled to the ground holding his left knee.
On Tuesday morning, scans revealed Murray had torn his left ACL, a devastating blow for him and the Nuggets. Murray emerged as a star in last year’s NBA bubble, and Denver had recovered from a slow start this season to look more like the team that made the Western Conference Finals last year.
However, as bad as the loss of Murray is for both him and the Nuggets, what it signifies for sports as a whole is a lot worse.
Murray had just returned from an injury to his right knee that kept him out for multiple games, and Denver was finishing a stretch of five games in seven days. This has been all too common for NBA teams this season.
After the end of the previous season was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA has tried to play as close to a full season as possible this year. They reduced the schedule from 82 games to 72, but teams are playing those games over a much shorter time span.
Ordinarily, the NBA regular season runs from the middle of October to the middle of April. However, this year, the season runs from the end of December to the middle of May. This has resulted in a more condensed schedule, which has led to more injuries.
This has been a reversal of what the NBA has tried to do over the past few years by reducing back-to-backs and giving players more time off. By playing a more condensed schedule this season, teams have to deal with more injuries, which makes the NBA product worse.
This is far from just an NBA problem, however. Other sports have been dealing with these issues as well: particularly, soccer.
One of the biggest issues that soccer faced in the COVID-19 pandemic was the postponement of necessary international matches. Needing to make those matches up, many teams have been playing three matches in windows meant for only two.
This includes Poland, which is the national team of one of the best strikers in the world: Robert Lewandowski. When he was on international duty recently, Lewandowski picked up an injury that caused him to miss both Champions League quarterfinal matches against Paris Saint-Germain with his club team, Bayern Munich.
On Tuesday afternoon, Bayern Munich was knocked out of the Champions League, club soccer’s most prestigious competition. Had Lewandowski been able to play in one or both of the matches, things probably would have been different.
The injuries to Murray and Lewandowski are two of countless examples of professional athletes getting hurt because of the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on sports.
The bottom line is that athletes are suffering from playing too many games after sports were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will only get worse if professional leagues do nothing to protect their players.
Will Cunningham is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Will? Tweet him @willocunningham.