7 Incredible Ways Sports Improved (And Even Saved) Lives

Everyone knows that athletes are conceited jerks who coast through life on a magic carpet constructed of full ride scholarships and billion dollar contracts. It's enough to make a person put down their gigantic foam finger and pick up a stupid book or something. And maybe you should--if you want to die.

Seriously, sports can save your life in a whole bunch of unexpected ways. Don't believe us? Keep reading.

#7. Man Sells Blood for NFL Tickets, Saves Own Life

NFL tickets are expensive as hell. You can usually save some coin by scoring season tickets, but unless you're rooting for, say, Jacksonville, the waiting list to actually get season tickets can sometimes border on unbearable. The Green Bay Packers, for instance, have been sold out of season tickets since 1960.

But so worth it

A reasonable person might shrug and move on with their life, but sports fandom is not about being reasonable. Thus we have the case of Jim Becker, a 2010 inductee into the Packers Fan Hall of Fame. He bought season tickets from 1952-2008. During those years he was raising eleven kids and had little money to spare for tickets. When he found he could sell his blood for money, he donated as often as he could just so he could afford to eventually be shit on by Brett Favre. These are the kind of screwed-up priorities that make non-sports fans hate sports fans.

But here's the twist to this story:

During one donation prescreening doctors discovered Becker's father died at age 43 of hemochromatosis, a disease causing excessive amount of iron in the blood. They tested Becker and discovered he too had the disease. However, discovering the disease wasn't what saved Becker's life. The most common treatment for hemochromatosis is phlebotomy treatments, which in laymen's terms means donating lots of blood.

By obsessively giving blood so he could buy his damned Packer tickets, Becker normalized the levels of iron in his blood and saved his life. When he was inducted into the Fan Hall of Fame, he was a ripe 79 years old. And Brett Favre was still an asshole.

#6. Overpriced Soccer Jersey Blocks Fence Post, Saves Kids Life

Anyone who has ever taken out a second mortgage on their house in order to buy an "authentic" team jersey knows one thing: them shits is expensive. But when you think about it, it makes sense. An authentic jersey is worn during some of the most brutal contests of skill and strength known to man (and baseball). They have to put up with a lot of wear and tear. But still, who among us hasn't at least one time thought, "$150 for a jersey? It better stop a bullet for that price."

It won't, but that doesn't mean a jersey can't save your life.

In 2006 ten year old John Hugh was wearing an overpriced soccer jersey when he decided to look over a fence at a trampoline next door. Because kids are uncoordinated fools, he of course slipped and fell on a fence post, nearly impaling himself in the chest. However, the ridiculously expensive shirt was also ridiculously strong and didn't rip, sparing John his life.

According to the boy's mother, "If the spike had gone in any further, it would have damaged his lungs and heart. He could've been killed and, if he hadn't been wearing his Arsenal strip, he probably would have." Ha! Arsenal strip. Foreigners talk funny.

What's more amazing was the shirt, while a little bloody and stretched from the incident, was restored to new. According to John "The only thing wrong with the shirt was there was blood on it and a dint where the spike stretched it. But my Mam put it through the wash and it is back to normal, as good as new. It must be really good quality."

Yeah, more than we can say for your decision making skills, kid. Stay in your damn yard next time.

#5. Hockey Ref Attacked By Player, Life Saved as Result

Hockey is one of the few sports where outright violence is not only tolerated, but expected. How else are they going to make a game that last for hours and often ends with a 1-0 score seem interesting? Maybe take some notes, baseball.

There are those who would argue that hockey thus teaches impressionable youths that violence is the only way to get ahead in life. We have two problems with that argument. First, shut up, pussy. Second, just as it is in the real world, in hockey, sometimes violence leads to good things. Such was the case for amateur hockey referee Dale Neudorf.

Yes, not even the refs are safe in hockey, and during a game Neudorf was checked hard across the face, and slammed into a wall. It was bad enough he had to be carried off and taken to a hospital. There Doctors did an MRI scan of his head to check for bleeding. The scan showed a tumor growing in the middle of his brain.

Had Neudorf not been refereeing for a less violent sport and not brutally smashed in the head, his tumor may have grown unchecked for much longer and made treatment much more difficult. You win this time, socialized medicine!

#4. Hours of Pointless Gymnastics Training Saves Teenager's Life

Between the international political scheming, doping, cheating and downright abuse of athletes by their nations, the Olympics is a much darker event than the choreographed opening ceremonies would have you believe, and gymnastics may be the worst offender. China was recently stripped of a medal for using underage athletes in its gymnastics team. According to the Huffington Post, the training regiments for gymnasts are downright brutal. But even outside of the scandals, there's something very creepy about taking a small child, carefully controlling their diet and forcing them to practice every waking hour while sacrificing anything that looks like a normal childhood. Especially if the resulting skill is utterly useless in every day life.

Not completely useless...

But maybe we spoke too soon on that one. After all, gymnastics training does allow for better balance and response times on the rare occasion when you may need such things, like when you're plummeting 30 feet to a certain death at the hands of the unforgiving ground below you.

That happened to 16 year old British gymnast Steven Jehu. While in Ljubljana, Slovenia for a meet, he went to look out a window at his hotel. When he opened the window and rested his hands on the safety bar (cue the Benny Hill music!) it gave way, causing him to fall out the fourth story window.

This story could have ended with Eric Clapton singing "Tears in Heaven" at his funeral; instead Steven used his training to somersault and execute a gymnast landing on a corrugated metal roof four stories below. He suffered only a broken ankle and a cut on his armpit.

Doctors say had he landed another way there is a good chance he would be dead. At least that's what most doctors said. The Russian doctor remained unimpressed.

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