What Drives an Athlete to Play Through Intense Pain?

A broken rib, torn cartilage, a separated shoulder, and a punctured lung. These are the injuries that Boston Bruin’s superstar Patrice Bergeron played through in the closing games of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final. To many people, this may seem unnecessary, or dangerous, but as Patrice stated after their game 6 series-ending loss, “I just did whatever any of my other teammates would have done.” This quote echoes the tone of countless other athletes who have sacrificed their body and health without thinking twice about it.

Three Miami University professors decided to study this trend of athletes playing through injuries and they referenced a few sociological factors. They reference the idea of Sport Ethic and mention that one of the main constructs of sport ethic is participating in your sport above all other things. It states that once an athlete fully adopts the sport ethic, they are expected to play through injuries and play through pain without showing deterioration of their abilities.

This idea may better explain why Patrice Bergeron was hospitalized after Game 5 of the series, but then still played in Game 6 which was just two nights later. Following their loss in Game 6, Patrice told reporters “I don’t know if there’s pride. Some people would say it’s stupid, but it just goes with the way it is. I’m just … you don’t just think at that point. You’re just trying to help the team, you try to do whatever it takes.”

“I don’t know if there’s pride. Some people would say it’s stupid, but it just goes with the way it is.” –Patrice Bergeron

This proves that for an elite athlete, it is much more than just a sport. It is a way of life for them, their livelihood, and come playoff time they will play through whatever their bodies can physically withstand.

Even if it is a hole in their lung, like Bergeron.

Featured image: Source


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