Thursday, September 11: On Injuries and Schadenfreude

It’s one of those useful German words, is schadenfreude. It does a good job of reducing a concept that’s a bit of a jumble in English into four syllables. Essentially, it means taking joy in someone else’s pain, and it’s something that provides a lot of joy for sports fans. Your team not doing well? At least you can enjoy your rival being crushed. It’s why so many people were thrilled to see the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, for example.

And it’s why so many people were actually pleased to see Tom Brady’s season come to an end. Brady’s injury generated a lot of conversation around this idea: was it okay to cheer when he got hurt? If not, was it at least okay to be happy that his team was going to be without his services? Or, on the other end of the spectrum, would it be all right to sell fan club T-shirts for the guy who knocked him out?

The folks at Riggo’s Rag took the idea and Redskinized it, picking players that they’d like to see knocked out of the game, which was mildly amusing in a macabre and tasteless sort of way. That post prompted me to see what some of the players thought of these kind of situations — talk radio guys like to say things like “You want to test yourself against ALL their guys,” and I wanted to see if our players agreed.

I started with London Fletcher. He answered graciously enough — “You would like to play a team at full strength,” he said, “but injuries happen throughout the course of the year on every team. We had our fair share last year — and this year too, actually. It’s just part of the game.” But Fletcher seemed so appalled by the line of questioning that I temporarily decided to table it.

Then the whole issue became much more practically important to the Redskins, when Marques Colston went down for the next four weeks and an item showed up on ProFootballTalk.com claiming that Redskins players “were ‘doing handstands and somersaults'” at the news.

This didn’t exactly square with what Fletcher had already told me (before the PFT item appeared), and the reactions afterward were even more vehement. “That’s ridiculous,” said Chris Horton, simply.

Reed Doughty elaborated. “All they said was that Colston was going to be out for this week’s game, and we went on with the gameplan knowing that we’ve got to watch film and figure out who’s going to be in his place. They’ve got a lot of weapons, I know that. They’ve got good receivers and tight ends.”

Both Shawn Springs and Andre Carter also seemed skeptical of and frustrated by the report, and the idea that players would react that way to an injury. “No one would say that,” Carter said.

All of which made me feel pretty bad about being happy that the Patriots were going to be without Brady this year, if I’m being perfectly honest.

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10 Responses

  1. Great post Matt. Went and read the somersaults thing and I really like how he uses an “inside source” for his information. Riiight.

  2. It’s appalling. Disturbing. Sickening. Thanks for being honest Matt, but were you happy that Brady was hurt, or just the Patriots’ quarterback was hurt?

    There’s a difference, IMHO.

  3. Thanks for addressing this, Matt! I read that story as a Redskins fan with horror.

    Knowing Florio, though, it will only please him that you sited him in your story and took the trouble to right the slight. It shows the power that PFT has now. Heck, I hit it a dozen times a day at least.

    And I know I’m not alone…

  4. I think it’s more of a question of the general disdain that everyone has with the Patriots. I’ve seen a lot of quotes of people claiming it’s “karma” etc., though these same folks said the same when they lost the Super Bowl.

    Am I happy Tom Brady is hurt? No. You never cheer when someone gets injured, that’s pretty cold and inappropriate. However, am I happy that a bunch of obnoxious Bostonians are going to watch their team go 8-8 in a mediocre season? Absolutely.

    Honestly, Boston sports fans infuriate me, and I’m not the only one.

  5. I was pretty careful with my phrasing on that last line — I’m happy the Pats are going to be without Brady. I’m never happy to see a player get injured, no matter how much of a rival he is.

  6. Matt, wrote, ” I’m never happy to see a player get injured, no matter how much of a rival he is.” In theory I feel the same way, but I can remember many (many) years ago sitting in RFK, watching Staubach (or White….) run around, and yelling at Dexter, “Break his leg!” So much for theory I guess.

  7. Dexter Manley always said that he wanted to hit people so hard that he saw a snot bubble. It was always fun to see if Dexter succeeded. It was harmless too.

  8. Matt,

    Never ever link to a story by PFT without at least making clear what kind of journalism they do over there. They’ve been a well known joke since their existence.

  9. A person should never be happy because of another persons Misfortune…not just Injury, but any Misfortune…If a person does, it is a sure sign that they are not focusing on their Performance…Which is where the focus needs to be…Also, if this is where the Mental focus is (on another person), Personal realization of ones Full Potential can never be Achieved…Besides, being Happy about another person getting Hurt, In Any Way, Is Just plain SICK…

  10. I am down that Tom Brady was injuried and out of the season. He was my Fantasy Quarterback and my favorite Quarterback beside Jason Campbell and I hope you fan stop bashing him and give him a chance to succed

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