A player goes down on your favorite team. It looks like a bad injury. They had to be helped off the ice. You stop paying attention to the game because, hell, it is one out of 82. You just constantly refresh Twitter waiting for a beat reporter to give injury news.
This comes to two separate paths: One, the beat reporter says that they have returned to the bench, the other more dreaded tweet to read “Player X is out for the rest of the game”. As a Tampa Bay Lightning fan I’ve been through this more times in the past few seasons then I would have liked but you know what I’ve learned in this time? These are player’s lives and it’s time to do away with injury timelines being shared with the public.
In an age where everything is instant gratification and knowledge is king (see the analytics movement) what good does putting a timeline on the injury do for a fan? Honestly? Nothing, you will see fans offer up their body part as a replacement for the player’s broken/injured body part but folks we are not cars that is not how this works.
As mentioned earlier these are people, and knowing that they aren’t able to help or celebrate with their teammates in good times is tough as it is. Add onto this that the extra time in between doctors visits or physical therapy or whatever treatment they are receiving allows them to see what fans are saying. And if the fan base says “get rid of Player X, they’re injury prone” or “if Player X would have played we would have won” it isn’t going to help them heal.
Here is my proposal: do away with the definite timelines. As fans we can Google expected returns from an injury but these are elite athletes and a normal timeline isn’t close to what to expect. But let’s keep day-to-day, week-to-week and out indefinitely. With these designations fans will have an idea of the seriousness of the injury but not mark days off their calendars or throw a nasty tweet at a player when it was a three-to-eight week projection and by week five they aren’t back.
Hockey is already a mysterious sport when it comes to injury designation with upper body injury and lower body injury; lets keep the timeline a mystery. If you want a player to play for the logo on the front of the jersey not the name on the back of it, let them recover in peace. Let them get back to 100% because coming back early due to outside pressure will just cause the injury to flair up again.
Fans, let’s be fans. Let’s leave the medical decisions and life altering decisions to the players and their families. Because in the end if you care about a player you’d rather see them on the ice and healthy then off the ice and seen as “injury prone” because they hurry back sooner then they should.