Chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, some rare neuropathies, meningitis, and lupus. These were not the hastily added ingredients of the salad of someone who loves medicine. No, these were the responses that came back when I asked how my teammates felt after practice and plugged those words in to WebMD and traveled down that rabbit hole.
If you’ve never used WebMD, I recommend that you never do. You will quickly learn about the worst case scenario for your malady. Your sore foot will need to be amputated, your runny nose will be symptomatic of multiple organ failure. It is a dangerous tool when not used wisely, and of course it never is. If something were seriously wrong, why would you be on WebMD anyway? It’s almost strictly for carrying your flights of fancy.
Though how we feel after practice is most likely not a rare liver condition that you had never heard of until 10 minutes ago, it sometimes would be nice to think so. Really, some days I think it would be better to attribute how I feel to something entirely outside my control instead of facing the somewhat morbid reality that I choose to do this to myself.
When you step back and look at it, playing sports is some form of masochism with point-keeping systems. For our peers on the hockey and soccer team, it is somewhat excusable; they can get paid to torture themselves. For the majority of Colorado College athletes, though, there is no good reason. Under our own volition, we put ourselves in situations that will almost certainly make us feel worse physically. More than that, we go out of our way to do it.
Strictly speaking, masochism is the practice of seeking pain or humiliation because it is pleasurable, and honestly, that sounds like a good chunk of playing a sport. I watched someone the other day punch themselves in the jaw as they were giving a speech about getting fired up. Taken out of the context of a contact sport, that is straight-up crazy. If you told me you were talking to someone in class who started hitting themselves in the face, I would be seriously concerned. That would be fascinating and frightening, like watching a snake shed its skin or hearing President Trump try to explain how much of a genius he is. If you put that in the context of a normal day of practice in a contact sport, however, it seems pretty run-of-the-mill.
Seriously, it is crazy. The experience of getting up every morning for months knowing that your body is going to feel significantly worse by the end of the day is truly nuts, especially when I spell it out like this. Somehow though, it still has its draw. Most people I know who play sports don’t go around stubbing their toes for fun, so I think a widespread epidemic of masochism is out. Still, WebMD will probably tell me it’s an incurable condition or lupus, though it’s never lupus.
I think it’s simpler. I think it’s that thrill of surviving something. It’s like skydiving but spread over several months. And instead of landing safely on the ground, giddy and high on adrenaline, you’re walking out of the training room, sore and tired and so much more willing to mess around on WebMD than do anything close to homework. Our men’s lacrosse season has begun, so stay tune for more agony, pain, and humor.