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Sassy Cassie: Do not play through the pain

Playing through the pain is a concept that every sports player knows well. Athletes put their bodies on the line for their sports — playing is their job. But if they are injured, they should not be expected to power through it.

Hockey is a sport known to be violent and very physical. It is common for players to lose a tooth or two in a game and continue playing, but in the playoffs, players tend to continue through major injuries. In 2023, player Aaron Ekblad played through a broken foot for almost two months and suffered a dislocated shoulder twice and a torn oblique. 

In 1934, goaltender Charlie Gardiner played through a chronic tonsil infection to win the Stanley Cup. That off-season, he died from a brain hemorrhage, which was a complication of the tonsil infection. 

Hockey isn’t the only sport players consistently play through illness or injury. Multiple events in sports history are idolized for athletes playing through it. One example is the infamous Michael Jordan “Flu Game” in which Jordan played through an illness. Another is when Tiger Woods played through two stress fractures and a knee that needed reconstructive surgery at the 2008 World Open. Also, football player Larry Wilson once played with two broken hands.

Players who do that are often considered “gutsy” within their sport for “playing through the pain.” Although the dedication is admirable, athletes should not be allowed to play through injuries. Injuries do not fix themselves, they require surgeries and time to heal. The idea of playing through injuries sets unhealthy expectations and the mentality that athletes are expected to play through the pain is harmful.

When children look at those athletes playing through the pain, they see that as the standard, which puts them at risk for injury early in their athletic career. According to a 2012 FIFA report cited by Integrated Rehabilitation Services, “42% of child athletes have concealed injuries to stay in the game.” No matter how small an injury is, it can only get worse by continuing to play on it. Along with that, rushing recovery from said injury can increase the risk of a repeated injury.

In addition to it being a bad mindset to adapt, playing with an injury can put other players on the field at risk. While playing with injuries, people often adjust the way they play the game, which can result in bad form. Not only is that unnatural for their bodies, but it also puts other body parts at risk.

Playing a sport professionally is just a regular job for some people. When people get injured, they stop working for a while. That is the standard in a normal workplace and should be the standard in professional sports. 

Cassie is a junior studying communications at Ohio University. Please note the views expressed in this column do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Cassie? Email her at

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