The correlation is inherent to the dynamic constructing the various nuances of college-level athletics. Soft tissue injuries are occurring at an increased frequency, as participating players perform at dizzying levels in pushing their bodies to the limits in pursuing excellence.
As the Name Image and Likeness (NIL) directive continues to evolve into confusing heights of resulting in instantaneous celebrities and the elimination of amateur status, two concepts forge the modern framework of participation sports, financial opportunities and aiming for dizzying heights of sporting accomplishments. The consequences of just add water to talent for achieving athletic feats is beginning to rear its ugly head of a society which feasts on instant gratification.
While children no longer bound around the neighborhood in feral packs or climb trees thanks to the liabilities created by overparenting and the crutch of video games as surrogate parents and replacing physical activities has resulted in anatomy not prepared for the rigors of competition enduring the stresses of reaching previously impossible apexes. Driving and exacerbating the disturbing trend of eliminating organically built immunity to injuries is the cash cow of the NIL in providing motivation to stretch the competitive imagination in exchanging student athlete status for a lucrative payday. In a country transfixed by advanced sporting analytics, video games, and winning the lottery of inking a $300 million MLB contract instead of embracing STEM and the fostering of sustainable career skills, reality has been banished to fetid shackles of Uzbekistanian penal gulag. From sponsorships to trade and barter, college competitors are raised in a sedentary atmosphere, yet push their bodies to limit when training or actually playing the game. The “Madden Era”, where even professional athletes hold intense grudge matches on flatscreens in the locker room, has created an eclectic subculture indicative of the “Information Age”.
This gaming demographic obsessed with pixilation, and at the same time striving to develop sports specific skills, are facing more non-contact injuries, as the dichotomy forged by the modern societal dynamics has not yet adjusted to the frenetic pace and the influx of data. At least for those suffering injuries during competition, modern sports medicine is keeping a reasonable pace in applying innovative and effective surgeries and treatments (just ask Aaron Rogers). However, psychological factors also have to be considered in evaluating the invincible mindset of the younger generations, as life-expectancy will increase exponentially over the next three decades barring rogue self-driving vehicles assaulting the human race.
The issue perpetuated by the caustic duality of brand and performance based compensation, and the addiction to gaming or social media, is that the middle ground has completely disappeared in all facets of life, including the sporting world and processing the readily available flood of information and data. As a consequence of a collective 15-second attention span, the method of “easing into” an active skillset or discipline has vanished, as the rewiring of the brain’s synapses from the video games has bestowed unreasonable expectations onto younger people.
The resulting phenomenon is outright disturbing. A gamer is under the delusion that with zero prior experience in a gym Stephen Curry’s shooting performance can be emulated simply from playing an NBA video game. The threat of injuries aside, the pending embarrassment of utter failure is a distinct possibility.
While the pretenders gravitate to basketball courts or football fields, again there is no middle ground, as the super athletes are primed to dominate as competition is watered-down. According to a UCLA Health stress-related study injuries to elite performers 18-years-old and younger has seen a noticeable uptick factoring in year-round sports specific training, as excellence on the field is being favored over detrimental long-term effects to the body. Plug the variable into the unsettling equation of unnatural breathtaking athleticism, and the sports medicine community is licking its collective chops on the number of knee and hip replacements will be required by 2040 for an influential sect of society that during their peak were once at the top of the sporting pyramid.
The marketplace for exoskeletal mobility devices is the next billion venture that will effectively transmutate the current generation of athletes/gamers into daunting cyborgs incapable of regular critical thought and incapable of identifying nuance.
Life is competition and evolution drives competition, however the absence of balance and resolve is placing society on a destructive trajectory that can be alleviated in enforcing accountability and prioritizing physical and mental health. When did effective parenting become an obscure concept?