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Home -> Blogs -> Free Kick -> Injury and Physical Effects on Players

Injury and Physical Effects on Players

Aug 02, 2014 13:59

The Issue:

In today’s world of football, it’s all about endurance, speed, physicality and skill. There was a time when skill was the most important governing factor on the impression that a player made. As Simon Kuper mentiones in his book: The Football Men, ‘Footballers were like rockstars till the 1990s, they got paid less, partied every day, and hit fame in their early twenties. Clubs did not expect players to take care of themselves either.’ However, the last 20 years or so have seen the physicality of the world’s most popular sport move to a new level. Players have to push themselves beyond human limits to be faster, stronger and last longer on the field. It is an era where there is a separate discussion on “injuries” before every match. No longer does just having a squad and managing players cut it out for managers. Player rotation to avoid injury and having backup plans for star players getting injured is a major concern for the management. So how does this fit into the dynamics of the game?

Changing Aspects of the Game:

We often hear of players facing injuries nowadays, not because of tackles or fouls, but often players fall down while simply running in the field with hamstring, ankle, thigh and loads of other injuries. Not only this, but events like the cardiac arrest that Fabrice Muamba suffered in the field, Petr Cech’s permanent head injury, shows the level of physical stress the players are putting themselves through. Its easy to say “No pain, no gain”, but in reality, it is very painful, seeing careers end because of injuries sustained internally by players. Players get a hard knock on the field and still continue playing on pain killers and pain relief sprays. Players have surgeries on a regular basis for repair of torn ligaments, tissues and broken bones. How much can a human body take? The physical level of competition in general has increased. So players naturally push themselves even harder to stay in the race. Players are often chosen nowadays for physical assets they possess like Gareth Bale’s speed, or as was Didier Drogba’s sheer physical presence. Taking nothing away from the skills shown by these big names in the field, the physical aspect is definitely a major plus point. Management looks at these aspects, a package as a whole, for players and fitness is one of the most important criteria that a player must fulfill.

Rising Expectations with Investments:

The mental stress that players face today with the amounts of money involved and the expectations that come in with that money contribute, I think, to a major part of this problem. Stress levels to perform are higher because there is more at stake. Even managers push players to physical limits due to economic pressures in present football. The huge sums of money being spent by clubs to buy, maintain and train players brings in higher levels of demand on output from these players. As we know, footballers have short careers spanning over just a decade in most cases and the actual number of years a player is at his peak is even less. The clubs naturally want the highest possible return on their investment and cannot be blamed for expecting more. So it’s a vicious circle, if you analyze it carefully, where you see players raising their levels physically and shortening their career spans in the process, owners pay higher sums of money for players, expecting more from them in their shortened careers, managers pushing players to perform and get better returns, this in turn pushes players to even higher levels of physical stress and expectation and so it continues.

The Balance:

So in all practical reality, there is a limit to the deliverable of a human being, both physically and mentally. Keeping this in mind, management has to keep realistic expectations from players to get returns over a longer period of time. Players themselves should know their limits and not push themselves beyond that. Only this can ensure a healthier and safer career on the pitch and a less injury prone sport for the fans. 

Fabrice Muamba's Collapse at White Hart Lane:

Fabrice Muamba's Emotional Return to Thank the Fans:

Real Madrid Players Show Muamba their Support:

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