Recently we had a reunion for our high school class. While scanning the dance floor, there was an obvious deterioration of the males in the room who had been involved in athletics in high school. There definitely was a contrast between their glory days of physical prowess when they were on the football field and now. It was quite shocking to witness the changes that had taken place from the time they led the high school to take state in football and the grey-haired decrepit condition they displayed only a few years later.
The female cheering club had always been there at the games supporting and cheering their athletes on to victory. In fact, a couple of those girls had married their athletic classmates, but now their husbands were bent over, out of shape and looking pretty scraggly. Why did the women look in better shape overall than the men? Are we killing off our men prematurely by encouraging them to participate in athletics?
A study was done on athletes which showed evidence that much of the damage done occurs during the growth spurt, which some young men in high school are still experiencing. Athletes in sports who have severe or moderate demands on their backs run a higher risk of developing disc degeneration and other abnormalities of the spine. They report high frequency of back pain as well.
It is unfortunate that we place so much emphasis on sports, insomuch that our youth will literally risk their health in the pursuit of recognition as an athlete. My own son tried out for the football team in high school and actually made it in. But, we were somewhat relieved when he announced that he was not going to go through with it because he knew he would probably get hurt or killed.
Knee and back problems, joint dislocations, which cause arthritis and other abnormalities, stem from accidents while the athletes are young. Then to prove that they are still young, the boys become men who continue to engage in heavy sporting activities. Together with normal aging, the results are obvious. I conclude there is something positive to being a “nerd”. The nerds seemed to be in better health than the athletes in our high school class by far.
I have often wondered why athletes are paid incredible amounts of money when they get in the big leagues, but in reality they are shortening their lives. It doesn’t help that when the athletes get married, their women let them do the heavy lifting and pushing because they are so muscle bound. They are expected to take out the garbage, lift the big boxes, and push the heavy furniture.
To help our male species, it would be beneficial if measures were taken to avoid the development of these injuries in young athletes. This could entail educating the athletes themselves, their trainers, parents and also the officials involved in sports. More training in learning good techniques, flexibility and muscle strength for spine stability could have a positive impact on the long-term outcome. Young men should be told of the potential outcome to their pursuit in athletics, which includes injury, pain and early aging.