Athletes Wimping Out or Being Intelligent?

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?

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3 thoughts on “Athletes Wimping Out or Being Intelligent?

  1. AvatarBuelldog

    I think there are two types of ‘hurt’ that athletes may have to deal with. The first type of hurt I think of as pain, just pain. Playing with this type of injury will not cause further/permanent damage. Type two ‘hurt’ is the type where the player runs the risk of a career-ending injury if he or she decides to play.
    I respect a player who ‘toughs it out’ and plays with pain.
    I also believe that any athlete who is willing to trade their entire future career for a single game has been bumped in the head one too many times.

  2. AvatarNoah Graff

    Exactly Buelldog. That is a distinct difference between Nadal’s match and Cutler’s case.

    Nadal was told by doctors that playing wasn’t going to damage him anymore. So why not go for it right? Hell he got some games off him. You never know what can happen. Maybe Ferrer gets injured or doesn’t have it that day.

    In cutler’s case, he’s got a knee injury and guys are trying to take out his legs on every play with a mediocre offensive line. They’re not allowed to go for his head so the legs every time.

    The dude has had concussions, was sacked 9 times in a half. Hell, he’s a type 1 diabetic and never says anything about it. He’s a tough dude. His main problem is that he looks terrible on camera. Appearing disinterested or with a bad attitude, while other players and coaches say he’s actually quite a good guy. He needs to work on his charisma in the off season.

  3. AvatarGeno DeVandry

    Both comments are right on. The only thing I would add is one is an individual sport and the other is a team sport. If the individual fails it’s on his shoulders. With a team it effects the whole team. This is one reason you have coaches. It’s his call.


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