To Rest or Not to Rest: The Examination of Star Players Riding the Bench


Addison Drone, Staff Writer

Across professional sports, more and more athletes are not playing in games that are viewed as not meaningful to prevent injury or take an opportunity to rest to endure the long season. No longer are players in professional sports with long seasons such as basketball and baseball competing to play in every game in a season. Rather, they are taking off games during the regular season to prepare for a taxing postseason. Notably, Greg Popovich would utilize this tactic of resting his star players during nationally televised games, outraging much of the league.

Over time, this trend has continued to grow and now has translated to football among other sports. Recently, this discussion has taken control of the football world as the NFL and CFB seasons approach their ends. Stanford and LSU running backs Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette elected to sit out their bowl games to avoid risking injury before the draft. Their reasoning is logical especially after watching Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith tear his ACL and LCL in his bowl game last year, dropping his draft position from a probable top-5 pick into the second round. In the NFL, the masses will now question the approach of playing star players when games no longer have significant value after David Johnson suffered a gruesome injury that luckily turned out to be only a strained MCL. Johnson and the Cardinals were not playing for anything other than draft position, having been eliminated from playoff contention prior to their Week 17 showdown with Rams. However, this controversy could be taken the other direction as players put aside the goals of chasing records and bolstering MVP cases by sitting out a game. For instance, Ezekiel Elliott had a chance to break the rookie rushing record, needing to net 177 yards in his final matchup to eclipse Eric Dickerson’s record of 1,808 yards.  However, he did not get a single carry in the Cowboy’s season finale as him and other stars of the team were held out of competing having already clinched the top seed in the NFC.

Overall, resting has become increasingly prominent as the fear of injury continues to be the factor for many teams and players. While health is of the utmost importance for these athletes, it takes away from the intensity of the games. This era presents a different time than previous eras. Many current players do not have the intention to play in every game if they do not provide a benefit and present the risk of injury  — they get paid either way. Either way, there needs to be a balance between the competitiveness of the games and the safety of the players.


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