[This is my column in the April 24 issue of The Commercial Review.]
“Curiosity killed the cat.”
Many times, I’ve been the cat — figuratively of course.
Especially when it comes to watching sports injuries.
I watched the video of the compound fracture Louisville’s Kevin Ware suffered in the NCAA Tournament last year numerous times.
The knee injury University of Miami running back Willis McGahee sustained during the 2002 BCS National Championship against Ohio State was something I watched over and over again also.
It was a must that I watch when Anderson Silva fractured his leg during his UFC fight too. My Twitter timeline was peppered with people talking about the injury and I had to see the incident.
With all three of those gruesome injuries, my curiosity got the best of me. They were injuries I should have never watched.
I wish I wasn’t the cat.
Sometimes though, we have no choice but to see the agony of others, whether we like to or not. It is literally thrown in our faces.
For example, NFL fans got a heavy dose of NaVarro Bowman’s knee injury in January’s NFC Championship game. The San Francisco linebacker was hurt on a controversial goal line play against the Seattle Seahawks, and it was on repeat for far too long as officials tried to determine what happened, with Bowman’s injury was critical to the outcome.
Other times, like Wednesday night at South Adams, those who just wanted to watch their friends or family play in a high school softball game got more than they bargained for when they got to the park.
South Adams outfielders Alyssa Bluhm and Morgan Alberson broke toward a fly ball to right center — Bluhm from center and Alberson from right — and as Alberson reached out and grabbed the ball, her left knee collided with Bluhm’s torso as she fell to the ground.
Sunglasses went flying. The softball ejected from the glove into center field, and neither Bluhm nor Alberson got up.
When play was stopped so coach Jessie O’Dell and the South Adams trainer could tend to the situation in the outfield, my instinct as a photographer was to see if I got the photos.
I captured the whole thing standing along the fence in left field. The two of them running after the ball, Alberson’s catch, the collision, the tumble and the aftermath.
A few minutes passed, and both Alberson and Bluhm rose to their feet. Alberson, who had entered a few innings prior as a pinch hitter, walked off the field into the dugout. Bluhm returned to her post in the middle of the outfield.
After taking a quick glance at the photos, I was proud of myself that I had gotten what I thought to be some pretty good results — possibly some of the best photos I’ve taken.
However, as I took a closer look on the back of my camera, I suspected exactly what I overheard others say — possible knee damage and a slight headache from when her head hit the ground.
That is, until I checked Twitter hours later to see if either of them had tweeted about the game and/or collision.
It was worse than expected.
Alberson tweeted a screenshot she had taken of her phone with text too large for Twitter’s 140-character limit.
“Thank you so much for the prayers, it’s really been amazing how much peace I’ve gotten,” the tweet showed. “But yes, I did break my neck (in a place where it’s the safest). I’m praising god that I’m not paralyzed.”
O’Dell, Alberson’s uncle, confirmed this morning the extent of the injury. Alberson fractured the C7 vertebrae at the base of her neck. He said she is wearing a neck brace and is showing mostly concussion-like symptoms.
My heart dropped immediately and my feelings toward the situation completely changed. Just hours earlier I was proud of myself for capturing the moment, but now, I didn’t feel the same because of the severity of the outcome.
There is no saying the long-term effects of Alberson’s injury. Her softball season was cut short, as was her club volleyball season. Now, it’s not as much a question as to “when” she will be able to return to the field or the court, but “if.”
Unlike the injuries to Ware, McGahee and Silva, this was one I didn’t want to see.