NBA Star Paul George’s Injury, While Unfortunate, Is Not Life and Death.

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While playing in a scrimmage for Team USA on August 1st, NBA all-star for the Indiana Pacers, Paul George, broke his leg in a brutal way. It was “gruesome” and required immediate surgery. George will miss an entire NBA season.

Players who looked on were mortified and stunned. News traveled fast. It was trending. People cried. People voiced and tweeted their support. I was listening to the August 4th podcast of an ESPN show called Numbers Never Lie and one of the hosts, Michael Smith, posed a question many others have as well: “Is it worth the risk?”

Is it worth it to risk an NBA season, money, a chance to win an NBA championship, personal legacy, and career, for exhibition games? Apparently reigning MVP Kevin Durant no longer thinks so as he has since voluntarily withdrawn from the team. I’m not faulting Durant. KD cites exhaustion for his exit, but the timing is a bit of coincidence.

In fact, other common thoughts shared throughout the sports world are:

  • That such an injury is a “sobering reminder” of how fleeting an athlete’s career can be.
  • That it can end at anytime.
  • That if you haven’t seen the injury, you probably don’t want to, as it would be a disturbing image to forget.

Here is where I am going to veer off course. I did not see the injury live. But I did not hesitate or have a problem watching it. Not because I am unsympathetic. I am. And I sincerely wish Paul George a speedy and full recovery.

However, when I hear the question is it worth the risk as it relates to a statistical improbability to most, I can’t help but think of the same question, is it worth the risk, as it relates to a statistical probability to many. And the statistical probability I am speaking of is cancer. One in three women and one in two men in the United Stated will get diagnosed with cancer.

Cancer is beyond gruesome. It is often physical and mental pain and anguish taken to another level.  Traumatizing, not only for the patient, but their loved ones as well. The pain of George’s injury, will pass, he will heal. By comparison to cancer, both in odds of occurring and overall pain and suffering, it is a blip.

Yet the collective horror for cancer isn’t there. The “sobering reminder” isn’t there. Yes, there is a lot of money given to cancer and there are some great non-profits doing great things for cancer awareness, and to fight the disease, but the collective interest, media coverage, analysis and scrutiny about what to do and how to proceed isn’t there.

Recently it seems like concussions in the NFL gets more attention than cancer.

  1. Why are there so many concussions?
  2. Who is at fault for the concussions?
  3. What can we do to stop the concussions?
  4. Are we doing do much or too little to make the game safe?
  5. Would you let your kids play football given how dangerous it is?

Where is this public angst and discussion for cancer? Broken legs and concussions are serious business… but if you watch a loved one go through:

  1. The pain and agony of cancer.
  2. Of having hope dashed by setbacks and complications.
  3. Of losing their mind to dialysis.
  4. Of starving themselves.
  5. Of hospital mistakes.
  6. Of feeling mutilated by surgery.
  7. Of financial ruin.
  8. Of fighting with all they have only to eventually lose the desire to live.

Watch these things and all of a sudden you may find watching a broken leg to be not so challenging or dispiriting.

Watch those things and ask yourself despite varying degrees of evidence for causality in the list below, until we know more, is it worth the risk to:

Smoking erases life

(c)pelooyen/bigstockphoto.com

  1. Smoke cigarettes?
  2. Consume too much sugar?
  3. Not get enough exercise?
  4. Ignore the environment & breathe in polluted air?
  5. Eat fast food & junk food?
  6. Abuse Alcohol?
  7. Ignore calls from all sectors to eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables? (Preferably organic)
  8. Get too much unprotected sun exposure?
  9. Consume GMO’s?
  10. Get upset over the little things?(and most things are little things)
  11. Use potentially cancer causing hygiene and cleaning products?
  12. Not get cancer screenings and routine checkups?
  13. Not have more oversight on hospitals?
  14. Not have more oversight over pharmaceutical companies?
Acceptance or Denial

(c)rnl/bigstockphoto

Cancer, the world’s leading killer, with an out of control increase in the rate of diagnosis; we should be forced to look at it. To look at it in horror the way we do at the uncommon injuries that occurr to basketball players like Paul George. We should discuss and analyze it and make changes where need be like we do with concussions in football.

It should be a sobering reminder that life can end or face ungodly trauma at any time. And after looking and reminding ourselves then we should ask ourselves about what isn’t and what is worth the risk.

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