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On the sad, sudden nature of sports injuries

Processing a devastating blow to your favorite athletes can be a difficult task for fans.

MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Sports are sudden. The anticipation, the momentum swings, the realization that the next play could change the course of the game. That same jarring nature that feeds the positive aspects of our fandom can also work in the opposite fashion.

The New York sports landscape was full of hope this year, a return to prominence that was going to paint the local teams in a positive light, and possibly bring championships back to the city. Devastating injuries have derailed many of those plans. It all started with Julius Randle’s ankle, elevated to Aaron Judge’s toe, and culminated with the Achilles of Aaron Rodgers. None of these injuries were the same, and our reaction to each was likely different given their nature, but the stages of anguish and acceptance follow a similar pattern.

They are hurt. The initial deflation, that melt into your chair feeling, as your body comes to terms with what you just witnessed. Verbalizing what you’re watching feels like the only way to give your body an exhale. It could be a limp or a fall to the ground from the player. The slow-motion replay happens, the grimace that should be reserved for the one being injured has now been transported onto your face. Your non-medically trained brain begins to diagnose all of the possible outcomes. At this moment you’re disappointed but wondering if it could be something minor.

The update. But before the official update you begin to panic. You’re hoping it’s nothing major but fearing the worst. You frantically scour the Internet as your aforementioned non-medically trained brain is now trusting random medical professionals on social media platforms. “An impact like that surely broke Judge’s foot, right?” “Did I see the reverberation in the calf muscle of Aaron Rodgers?” Cyclones of thoughts rush through your mind until you officially get the word: *insert player* has been ruled out.

The MRI or X-ray confirmation. The day in between, when reports are swirling, the rumor mill is in full swing, but you have not heard any news from the team. The glimmer of hope is still prevalent but fleeting. How this injury could impact a season or a team is already being discussed on every sports TV and radio show. Then the news drops. Your body has circled back to where it all began, that sudden silence that initially overtook your emotions when the injury first happened has now returned. The reality of the moment has not been fully processed, but neither has the final stage of the injury saga …

Acceptance. Sports have risks. Being a fan of a team has risks (to our emotions). However, we tend to move on quickly. I can’t manage to pinpoint if that is a healthy way to approach situations like these. They can be devastating for aspirations that a team may have, but since the future hasn’t played out yet, still holding on to the hope that your team can persevere is the only option. For the Knicks that didn’t happen. For the Yankees that didn’t happen. It remains to be seen how it works out for the Jets.

Scrap all of these phases of grief when it comes to injuries like Jasson Domínguez. Blindsided comes to mind. Can I donate my elbow? Again, I’m not a doctor.

It has been a tough season for the Yankees and a brutal week for injuries in New York sports. This is your permission to take a deep breath.