Reconciling our love of sports with the risks associated with them:
When I graduated after four seasons of high school rugby, and prepared to head off for four more seasons in college, I felt transformed. I no longer called myself a tomboy, and rugby was no longer a crutch.
So much for the revenue side of the balance sheet. Rugby had, for a time, given me everything. But around the same time I’d begun to outgrow my need for it, I’d also begun to understand its potential cost. I racked up pulled muscles and strained ligaments, and chipped a bone in my ankle that still aches under pressure, more than 15 years later. I played with women sporting twin scars on their knees from ACL surgeries. I saw a man come off the pitch one afternoon with his ear torn half off. I helped concussed teammates stagger off the field, unable to remember their own names, and suffered one concussion myself — a minor one, but still an injury with the terrifying power to reach back in time and erase my memories from even before the hit. I had one friend, on my college’s men’s team, who swore he would quit after three concussions, but he only counted the big ones. Once, I saw him pick himself up after a collision and line up alongside the wrong team. And then, finally, I watched that young man break his neck under the floodlights on a cold night in northern England. I was haunted by the question of my own potential regrets.