10 Weird Sports Injuries
September 21, 2010 | Lists
Given we can only do the four-minute mile in a car under optimal traffic conditions, we’re not the guys to turn to if you have a Wikipedia entry on the armpit hair length of shot-put medalists that needs updating.
We’re also not in the business of analyzing the last time the Dodgers won on a Sunday in June when the anthem was sung by a fallen teen idol in fair weather conditions.
We have an equal dislike for both numbers and sports, but we are familiar with disabled lists, having forged enough parental consent forms to get out of gym class to win us several consecutive life sentences had those been checks forged as adults.
The “disabled list” or “DL”, is most commonly associated with baseball injuries. This is not surprising since the average season takes longer than the construction of a subway line and that drunk with an eye patch unfurling his billiards cue at the after-hours bar has as much raw athletic talent as your average designated hitter. Participating in other, more high-contact sports, such as football, basically guarantees that you will one day set off the airport security checker with the various pins and plates jerry-rigged to hold your battered frame together.
Here we focus on 10 Bizarre Sports Injuries from every major sport that go beyond a baseball catcher’s knees finally giving up after a lifetime of more squatting than a person with irritable bowel and an Asian toilet.
10) Baseball: Glenallen Hill and George Brett: Baseball payers were much tougher back when Ty Cobb would pummel a blind usher on bat day or, more recently, when David Wells would hurl first on the floor of the nearest bar and, after a sink of cold water and a breath mint, on the mound.
Former Blue Jay Glenallen Hill was benched due to his fear of an eight-legged creature – and we don’t mean four beer-drunk Yankees fans in a Bronx parking lot. Hill, an arachnophobe, who had a dream that he was covered in spiders, tumbled out of bed in a panic and crashed through a glass table. He went on the DL due to the cuts suffered in the fall and if he’s reading this now: tarantula dangled on a string over your sleeping eyes.
George Brett finds himself on this list for the time “his hemorrhoid problem gained national attention” (the first instance this phrase was used since the advent of cursive writing) when during the World Series, Brett removed himself from game two against the Phillies – though he likely remained on his feet while “sitting out” the game – returning after undergoing minor surgery. (CBC Sports, June 2005; New York Times March 1981).
9) Cricket: Chris Lewis: Cricket, or as it’s known in North America “baseball with no gloves where both teams wear white to heighten confusion in a game nobody understands anyway”, is among the world’s most popular sports, spread around the globe back when the sun never set on the British Empire, the same empire now in desperate need of a fake and bake. Too much scorching sun can be a dangerous thing, as English cricketer Chris Lewis found out when he shaved his head and forgot to wear a hat before a match in the West Indies. The Sun newspaper in the UK, the best when it comes to giving people catchy insulting names dubbed him “The Prat Without a Hat” when he got sunstroke and missed a key game. (ESPN December 2008)
8) Basketball: Dikembe Mutombo: Being taller has its advantages – better pay and a greater likelihood of becoming president than if you were a leading light in the airborne half of the national dwarf tossing circuit, for instance. This is no more apparent than in pro basketball, a sport rife with heads banged on door frames getting in and out of stretch limousines where even an average-sized player can set a drink on top of the head of the biggest guy you know. But microorganisms can still bring down giants, and malaria – most commonly associated with sunburned sailors whose last delirious words are recorded in the captain’s log – nearly felled one who would have had Jack’s number on that bean stalk. Mutombo, an NBA center known for wagging a finger the size of a baguette in the face of opponents trying to score, contracted malaria on a trip to the Congo, and noted, in a sentiment familiar to those who’ve ever slept under a skylight: “My bed was soaked in sweat. I thought I was going to die.” Epilogue: He did not die. (USA Today January 2003)
7) Hockey: José Théodore: Goaltender Théodore failed a random drug test for the 2006 Winter Olympics for what was thought to be a masking agent for anabolic steroids – it wasn’t, it was for a pill for which hair popping up in places it hadn’t before is actually a welcome side-effect, Propecia. But his humiliation did not end there. (Editor’s note: The Olympic authorities’ case was flawed from the outset: Why would a goalie, the slowest skater on the team who is there because nobody else wants instant welt-causing vulcanized rubber fired at them at upwards of 100 mph, need steroids?). Théodore was traded after the hair scandal while sustaining an injury that might be included in a high school English assignment to define “irony”: what is normally only an occupational hazard, ice, put the goalie out of commission when he slipped on it outside his Montreal home. (Montreal Gazette February 2006)
6) Football: Gus Frerotte: Pro football is a high impact sport, with tackling often compared to collisions starring an old lady and someone not looking as they throw it into reverse. While crushing blows on the gridiron have been known to make wishbones out of extremities, it’s rare that a player knocks himself out of commission. Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte skirted across the goal line against rival Giants and instead of an end zone boogie, head-butted a padded wall, spraining his neck and resulting in him needing to be lifted off by air ambulance. (Washington Post November 1997)
5) Soccer: Steve Morrow: We now turn to the other “football”, as some too-smart-by-half blowhard will invariably take pains to point out if it’s referred to by any other name. Wembley stadium is perhaps the most famous stadium on the planet, which as a point of interest contains 2,618 toilets, more than any other venue in the world, unless a toilet museum with wealthy benefactors pops up. Many aspiring soccer players dream of one day ripping the twine on its storied surface (and to a much lesser extent, relieving themselves in one of the aforementioned shitters), while others distinguished themselves in other ways. In a 1993 game against Sheffield – think Buffalo, but less glamorous – the Arsenal team captain tried to hoist Morrow up in a post game celebration but slipped, and Morrow broke his arm as he hit the ground. (Associated Press, March 2009)
4) Auto Racing: Jimmie Johnson: What constitutes a sport and an athlete is a contentious issue. Why the homunculus propped atop a horse is given all the kudos while the beast is loaded into a trailer and granted the wish to one day be a wiener of a certain sausage-product manufacturer – is anyone’s guess. By the same token, in what’s more of a stretch than a groin pull at Cirque du Soleil, race car drivers are often considered athletes. NASCAR is often criticized by snobs who point out that prepping for oval races only requires a circular driveway and holding the steering wheel at noon and 6pm for long enough to complete 100 laps. Still, like the drunk guy sent packing after last call, these guys risk life and limb every time they turn the key in the ignition. Driver Jimmie Johnson was on the far safer grounds of a golf course, but still managed to injure himself by falling off a golf cart. Johnson said the driver took a sharp turn, causing him to fall and break his “non-shifting hand”, failing to mention that he was on the roof at the cart of the time. (Sports Illustrated December 2006)
3) Golf: Sam Torrance: Golf is almost less of a sport than car racing. A gust from a mini putt windmill could topple an old duffer and no sport other than bowling, is more associated with chronic alcoholism, obesity and failed marriages. While it could be argued that a high degree of skill is necessary to hit the fairways and not bash one into a caddy with poor reflexes, it’s also the only sport that uses a conveyance for purposes other than racing it. During the 93 Ryder Cup, pro golfer Sam Torrance paid the price for exerting himself beyond the norms of his sport. Torrance, a sleepwalker, leapt out of bed and tackled a Yukka tree (it resembles an oversized cactus), breaking his toe and putting himself out of contention. (Yahoo Sports November 2008)
2) Cycling: Mark Cavendish: The only sport on our list known for fashion statements worse than the kaleidoscopic nauseas found on the fairway, biking here is mostly associated with not being able to afford a car or selling drugs to minors. Globally though, there are those who with keen interest, follow the goings on of the Tour de France and there’s something kinda admirable about looking at the Alps and thinking: Why ski down them when you can bike up them sweating through synthetic fibers on a bike that costs more than the average sedan? British cyclist Mark Cavendish found out there are challenges greater in life than shrinking Spandex in the wash and wishing road accidents on the guys ahead of you. Proving that video games can injure people just as successfully as sports played outdoors, Cavendish was playing a snowboarding video game when he fell off the board and injured his calf. (Yahoo Sports November 2008)
1) Tennis: Goran Ivanisevic and Mark Philippoussis: In his playing days and perhaps now too if we were to give him a call and curse his mother, Ivanisevic was known for his combative nature. The Croat was paired at a tournament in Toronto with Australia’s Mark Philippoussis for a doubles match. Ivanisevic decided to head the ball over the net at the same time Philippoussis took the more traditional route of playing the shot with his racket. Their heads clanged together and the pair dropped like a ton of bricks at a mob-contracted construction site, Ivanisevic requiring stitches and Philippoussis with a concussion and a desire never have to have Ivanisevic for a partner again. (The Independent March 2003)
FACTOID: Ivanisevic is no stranger to the DL. He once cut his foot on a beach rock while playing paddle tennis in Florida and broke several fingers rushing into a practice facility where he’d left his rackets behind.