Yesterday after I slammed my head into the squash court wall, there was enough blood on the floor and in my cupped hand that I wondered if I had a concussion or was going to need stitches for the ¾ inch gash above my right eye.

Later while watching the Olympics, I grimaced during the three crashes I saw in the women’s downhill ski competition. And Lindsay Vonn won a gold medal in that event in spite of her pained shin, her almost-ripped-off thumb.

This morning I read about a snowboard athlete, Kevin Pearce, who wiped out in training and is in rehab learning how to walk again. Shaun White (gold medal snowboarder) has experienced a list of injuries from his sport that makes one pity his mother: He fractured his skull, broke his right hand and right foot and was knocked unconscious—all by age 11.

Now that I follow professional athletes—or even the amateurs I know—we are all getting injured all the time. It comes with the territory. But I lived for decades without messing up my body. I didn’t have broken anything, much less limps, bruises and aches. Can any of you who play sports imagine such a pain-free existence?

I can’t any longer. Though I am not taking the extreme risks of the pros, who might die or be permanently disabled from their passion to play and excel. I still can’t grasp those rock climbers who fall to their deaths with one slip of the finger. Unimaginable.

In an article about the dangers of Olympic winter sports, I read that Statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission make clear just how dangerous winter sports can be and not just for Olympians: 139,332 Americans were injured while skiing in 2007 and even more, 164,002, got hurt while snowboarding that year. And when looking at all winter-sport injuries, including sledding, snowmobiling and ice skating, 10 percent involved a head injury.

Why do we all do it, to whatever degree? For the satisfaction of progress? The feel of hitting a great shot or making a point against an opponent? Or racing faster? No matter the danger, pain, or practice required?

There was a short documentary on TV about Evgeni Plushenko, the Russian figure skater who won gold in 2006, retired to relax, but became bored. He missed the thrill, the goal, the competition, the nervous tension and the potential satisfaction. He wants “back-to-back gold medals, like Dick Button.”

Of course there are plenty of amateur athletes who play for the social exchange and the bit of cardio, to be included with friends, and to have something to do that fills retirement time or free housewife hours. But over and over I hear how so-and-so can’t play this week, because she is injured, whether she is 75 or 20 years old.

We all accept it as part of the game, those sore arms and tennis elbows, the knees that buckle and legs that ache. It is inevitable. Or as a very active friend who is permanently injured told me on the chair lift this week, “I don’t even notice my Achilles heel discomfort, or that my shoulder is just floating around after the surgery removed some tendons.”

I only want to point out that if you are playing any sports, it comes with the territory. But there are millions of people who don’t hurt their bodies every week or month. It is not normal. It is not necessarily a way of life. I used to be one of those people. And now I have crossed over to a sometimes bloody madness…no big deal. After five hours of tennis today, it sure beats the stiffness I’d have from sitting on the couch or in front of the monitor.

What do you think? Are we nuts? And is there really any other way?

By the way, I never went to the emergency room to see about stitches, and I remember my squash trainer the other day saying that there is only ONE DOOR in and out of a squash court. It’s in the back wall. SO DON’T LOOK FOR IT IN THE SIDE WALLS.