Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sports-related PTSD

On September 24, 1994, I was stabbed to death. Let me explain… Actually no, here is ESPN Classic's description of what they dubbed the "Miracle at Michigan":
It's called the Miracle in Michigan when Colorado quarterback Kordell Stewart pulls a Flutie. On the game's final play, with Colorado trailing by five and having the ball on its own 36-yard line, Stewart buys time by scrambling in the pocket before letting loose a Hail Mary.

The ball travels 73 yards towards the Michigan goal line. Back-up wide receiver Blake Anderson, son of former Miami Dolphins safety Dick Anderson, leaps and tips the ball away from a Michigan defender back into the end zone.

Michael Westbrook dives for the ball and cradles it for the touchdown that gives No. 7 Colorado the improbable 27-26 victory over No. 4 Michigan, which led by 12 points with 2-1/2 minutes left.
(http://espn.go.com/classic/s/moment010924-kordell-hailmary.html) I REFUSE to post the YouTube clip. Just reading that description was painful. Amazingly, I can't remember where I was at that exact moment. I honestly think I may have blocked it out. Or blacked out...

So how did that moment stab me to death? In his podcast yesterday, the Sports Guy said the first time he saw a Hail Mary live, it was like getting stabbed to death. I immediately thought of that goddamn Colorado game and how perfect that description is. I shared that analogy to three of my good friends and here's what they said:
  • that's truly my worse football memory... i was on some bar in chicago's floor in a fetal position... thank god i went to a rave that night and ummm did what people do at raves
  • ahhh, that was a fucking amazing game and moment. fucking kordell. i was in the stadium on the 40 at about the 5th row or so. what made that game so bad, was that i was thinking stupidly during the game that this was finally the national championship year. (actually everyone around me was thinking the same thing) then sure enough, blue goes into the "three yards and cloud of dust to protect the lead" mode, and those fuckers come back. then the hail mary; then the stunned silence that seemed an eternity in the stadium. it was eerie how no one moved an inch, just staring into space in disbelief (aside from the little colorado section across the stadium). i just remember one of my jackass friends shouting over and over: "flag on the play" "i see a flag" "i see a flag", until we finally told him to shut the fuck up and the game was over. lovely memories. as you can clearly see, i am over it...
  • I forgot to get student tickets that year so I was watching it from home (close to the stadium that I could hear the stunned silence). As with most home games that year I of course had gotten a quarter barrel to preparty before the game. So I succeeded in getting stupid drunk to try and forget the game. And then I remembered that I had to go work the door at Rick's...
I mean seriously, we only won 3 games this year and THIS is his "worst football memory"?? We've bent over to Ohio State for the last ... I don't even know how many years and THIS was more traumatizing. Vivid memories of the moment and obviously, they're not over it.

That got me thinking… Is there such a thing as sports-related post-traumatic stress disorder? PTSD involves:
  • Exposure to a traumatic event, involving a response of intense fear, helplessness or horror
  • The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced
  • Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma)
  • Duration of the disturbance is more than one month
  • The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment
(Thank you, DSM.)
  • Traumatic event = f&^*ing "Miracle at Michigan"
  • Feelings of horror, check.
  • Re-experience, check.
  • Avoidance of stimuli = hate you Kordell
  • Duration of disturbance = it's been over 14 years!!
  • And significant distress? I think that's an understatement...
I don't mean to minimize or trivialize PTSD. I know it's a serious anxiety disorder affecting many, many people. And I know that calling a moment in a football game a "traumatic event" is a stretch. Also, I'm not saying that every game-changing, significant moment in sports history is a source of sports-related PTSD. What I am saying, though, is that Stewart and Westbrook have certainly traumatized many Michigan football fans. To the point where I'm trying to explain, diagnose and treat our "disorder". Sigh...

No comments:

Post a Comment