Athletes play from the heart

Rich Peverley suffers "cardiac event" and collapses on bench during Dallas Stars hockey game.

Athletes play from the heart

                In Dallas, Texas on March 10, 2014, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars hockey teams met for a very important game with their seasons dwindling. Both teams’ visions of making the playoffs were hanging right in front of their faces.

One of the many determined players on the Dallas Stars roster is 31 year old center, Rich Peverley. Throughout his career, Peverley has overcome great odds to get to where he is today. Not only has he worked his way up from the lowest minor hockey league associated with the NHL (the ECHL), but he also has been playing his whole adult life with an irregular heartbeat. After he and his all-star teammate, Tyler Seguin were traded in the offseason from the Boston Bruins to the Dallas Stars, Peverley decided to have a procedure done that would rid him of the nagging problem he has been playing through.

Shortly after the drop of the puck on the Monday night, panic struck the bench of the Stars. Peverley had collapsed on the bench. Players and coaches frantically searched for any doctors in the crowd. The game was postponed after the tragedy and is rescheduled for April 9th. The collapse was caused by an undisclosed “cardiac event” that Peverley went through. The quick reacting by the players and doctors probably granted him another day to live.

It is reported that shortly after Peverley regained consciousness that he asked the doctors, “how much time is left in the period”. This question implies that Peverley intended on returning to the action. As amazing as this may seem to some people that he is willing to go back into a game after he just suffered a life-changing incident, it also imposes a question that many critics of sports allude to. How much is too much when it comes to the physical pressure athletes put on themselves? Many people, including fans and teammates of Peverley, believe that his willingness to sacrifice himself for the better of the team is eminent of the character that he possesses.

“Athletes in general are kinda weird that way, they’ll play through injuries.” said Dallas Star veteran winger, Ray Whitney. “I’m not sure about playing with a heart injury, that seems a little aggressive, but that’s Rich, he’s been dealing with it all year and he says he’s fine. He said after they [the doctors] revived him he felt fine.”

While some may commend and appreciate how he is willing to put his team before himself, it causes concern and worry for others.

“We’re more concerned about Rich ‘the person’ and not Rich ‘the player’ right now,” said Dallas coach, Lindy Ruff. “He has a family and kids to worry about. Things like these really make you realize that there are more important things in life than hockey.”

The dedication and time put into a game has the ability to blind people of anything beyond it. The competitiveness of an athlete can make “finishing what you started” seem like a necessity. The competitiveness that drives the person can make everything but the task at hand oblivious to you. As an athlete, I understand how tough it is to stop playing because of an injury. I understand how easy it is to make you seem fine on the outside, but sometimes you have to look outside of the game and realize the people you could effect if you go back out there and seriously hurt yourself.

Many times I have seen someone play through a bad injury, the majority of them being concussions. Witnessing someone play through something like that always scares me a little. Even though sometimes the injury doesn’t greatly affect their playing ability, the risk of getting permanently hurt does not outweigh the reward of victory.

Rich Peverley was lucky that there were an abundance of doctors nearby to save his life. What happens if there isn’t any? If a similar situation happened in an amateur league, the person might not have been so lucky. Sometimes you have to realize that there are more important things in life than a game.