This has been a year to remember in sports for some of the memories that it has created, but a year to forget for those who have suffered serious injuries.
From Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert suffering an ankle injury reminiscent to that of Kevin Ware’s, Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Hamidou Diallo having his leg bent all the way back in an awkward fall, UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton taking a helmet to the knee and Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith suffering a Joe Theismann-like leg injury, 2018 has been the year of the gruesome injury.
Severe injuries, such as the ones mentioned above and other commonly occurring season-ending injuries, such as a torn ACL or UCL, have occurred at an alarming rate so far this year. It’s no secret that sports are dangerous and injuries are part of the game, but what could be attributed to the uptick?
As athletes have become bigger, faster, stronger and more technically sound, there is more risk that comes along with playing the sport. Muscle-bound athletes put increased pressure on their joints and ligaments and often times, the end result is a serious injury. It doesn’t help that 300-pound defensive linemen come crashing down on quarterbacks at will in football, either.
Take a look at the Smith injury, for example. It was an unfortunate injury, as Smith’s leg rolled up while he was being brought to the ground by Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt had didn’t intend to injure Smith, but with his large stature and status as one of the stronger players in the league, the force with which he made the play was simply too much for Smith’s leg to handle.
In Milton’s case, a USF defender was trying to go low on one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in all of college football and wound up drilling his helmet into Milton’s knee. There was no malicious intent on the play, but the rate at which USF’s defensive back came in to make the play caused Milton’s knee to be dislocated and twisted at a 45-degree angle in what was an injury that was not for the faint of heart.
On the hardwood, both LeVert and Diallo got hurt in similar ways. The two wings possess 40-inch verticals and used their athleticism to sky amongst the trees down in the paint in an effort to get a rebound. Both LeVert and Diallo came down awkwardly and the end result was a dislocated ankle for LeVert, although he is expected to return at some point this season. Somehow, Diallo, who had to be stretchered off and was down on the floor screaming in pain, avoided major injury and came away with only a sprained ankle in what seemed to be a career-altering leg injury based on the optics.
Essentially, there’s nothing that can be done to prevent these kinds of injuries. As some of the most dominant athletes in the world going at it in full force, injuries, whether minor or major, are bound to happen. It’s an unsettling fact of sports, but one that cannot be avoided.
Tyler Calvaruso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tyler_calvaruso.