Raphael Nadal is the greatest tennis player in the world. He was ranked #1 going into the current Australian Open. If he won the Melbourne tournament it would be four straight wins in a row, not done since 1969.
But he lost in the quarter finals in straight sets (6-4, 6-2, 6-3) to fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, seventh ranked in the world. It was a match that perhaps should not have been played because Rafa injured his hamstring in the very first game. He gutted it out for three sets and Ferrer played well (yes being an idiot tennis junkie I watched it at 4:00 in the morning on ESPN).
On the football front, Jay Cutler, the Chicago Bears quarterback, sustained a sprained knee in the first half of the NFC championship game against Green Bay last Sunday. He left the game after playing poorly on the gimpy leg. Cutler has taken a lot of heat for supposedly wimping out. According to some sources, he wasn’t even given the choice by the coaches to stay in the game. But for the sake of argument, lets pretend that it was Cutler’s choice whether or not to stay in.
The two cases are not exactly parallel but bring up the question of whether you do yourself or your team a disservice by playing hurt. Is it really the noble thing to do for Nadal or Cutler to play at 60 or 70%, when that would threaten their own future health and longevity?
Personally, I think in both of these cases the player would have done the right thing to accept injury—in Nadal’s case, conceding the match to his countryman rather than giving him a hollow victory, and in Cutler’s case, allowing an able bodied quarterback to get in the rhythm of the game before it was out of reach.
Question: Which athlete do you think made the right choice?