The Gonzaga Bulletin

Athletics demanding excellence across the map is simultaneously driving while also dangerous. Physical and mental ailments plaguing athletes too often are dealt with by ignoring the issue and forcing individuals to march on.

In today’s age where easy access rules, patience lacks, meaning that team owners and coaches are more likely to opt for repeated quick fixes when it comes to injuries. 

The athletic mentality contains pushing through pain and reaching new limits, yet this core value lends itself better to philosophy than implementation. The healing process, although somewhat tedious, is crucial to a full recovery that ultimately benefits everyone involved. 

Killing pain rather than mending what is broken is a risky gamble to take, as bodies and minds containing cracks eventually crumble under the extreme pressure. 

Athletic leagues calculate these gambles and attempt to plan accordingly, hiring outside sources to watch high risk players. In the event that these athletes run away from their professional babysitters and misbehave, teams toss them aside — putting image and profit before humanity. 

According to USA Today, the opioid epidemic in America is at an all-time high, with citizens more likely to die of an overdose than a car crash. It’s no surprise that these highly addictive substances have forced their way into professional athletics, with players popping pills on a weekly basis as part of their training routines.

Free agent running back Mike James comes to mind, as his request for therapeutic-use exemption was denied by the NFL. After breaking his ankle in 2013 James was prescribed pain killers. The league would prefer he continue to consume opioids — something he admittedly developed a reliance on — than smoke pot, he said in an interview with The New York Times.  

The logic behind this is extremely flawed. Marijuana is prohibited in the NFL, but subjecting players to an already declared addiction isn’t prohibited and is just cruel. 

Recently the NFL decided to indefinitely suspend Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon for violating the league’s policy regarding substance abuse, a decision which has undoubtedly become routine in Gordon’s unsteady career. As a result of this Gordon decided to step away from football and focus on his mental health.

While I commend the NFL for taking action, they have ultimately done Gordon and other players like him more harm than good. It’s noted that Gordon was reinstated to the 

NFL multiple times, indicating that suspension mainly acts as a slap on the wrist. Understandably players take this form of reprimand less seriously than intended because they can continue their behavior and still reenter the league.

The Zags haven’t played football since 1941, yet the prevalent health issues among NFL players still occur on college campuses in various sports.

Killian Tillie and Geno Crandall both sat portions of the 2018-19 season out, only stepping on the court after they were fully healed. These two made a notable difference in the game against USF with Tillie scoring 14 points and Crandall nailing a three with roughly two minutes left, allowing for crucial separation in the close game.

Notably other players have stepped down for personal reasons, met with nothing but support and well wishes from their respective teams.

In spite of the examples left by professional leagues, Gonzaga continues to excel in their promise to care for their athletes. 

Allowing time for healing and proper care has led to extreme success on the court, with both men’s and women’s basketball ranked in the top 15.

It seems treating players as humans rather than replaceable machines fares well. Professional leagues would benefit from taking a note or two from the Zags. After all, businesses function upon numbers and ours clearly indicate thorough procedure wins games.

Nicole Glidden is an opinion editor. Follow her on Twitter: @NicoleGlidden16. 


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