The Victory of Pain

Have you ever worked so hard for something just to have all snatched away from you in the blink of an eye? Murderball, or rugby, is the story of quadriplegics on the USA rugby team. This documentary dives deep into each of the players’ lives, revealing details from their injuries, performance of sexual intercourse, and love for the game of rugby. It turns out that even if given the chance, none of these players would jump on a cure to be normal, right away. Players like Mark Zupan, find redemption in Murderball and realize that they would not trade the life they have for the life they once had. He says, “I’ve done more stuff in a wheelchair than I did when I was able-bodied.” In this blog we will explore the injuries, feelings, and redemption of a few of the players of the USA rugby team.

Cleveland, Ohio native, Mark Zupan is one of the premier players on the USA rugby team. Even before he was injured, a couple of his friends said he was a jackass. “He looks scary,” they said. One night, Zupan got drunk at a party and passed out in the bed of his best friend, Chris Igoe’s truck. Chris, also drunk, did not even see Mark in the bed as he passed by to go to the driver seat and drive home. “Drunk driving wasn’t as big a deal back then as it is now,” he said. While on the expressway, Chris was involved in a collision, and Zupan was thrown from the bed, over a fence, and into a canal. While in the canal, Zupan held onto a branch for fourteen hours until being spotted by a passerby. He went into hypothermia and became quadriplegic. When asked if he would “turn back the clock on that day”, Zupan answered “No, I don’t think so. My Injury has led me to opportunities and experiences and friendships I would never have had before. And it has taught me about myself. In some ways, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” Zupan has found redemption in wheelchair rugby, also known as Murderball. He was apart of the 2004 bronze medal-winning USA team in Athens, and captain of the 2008 gold medal-winning paralympic team in the recent Beijing Olympics.

Another main character in the Murderball documentary was Scott Hogsett. With his vibrant blonde hair, it’s hard to miss this quadriplegic on the rugby court. Similar to Zupan’s story, Hogsett was injured while intoxicated. While at a New Year’s party, Shawn, a drunk, angry friend, threw Hogsett off a 10-foot deck into the 25-degree Washington snow. Because everyone at the party was drunk, no one had any clue that Scott’s neck had broken with the impact of the fall. Shawn went down and continued the beating, ripping Scott’s spinal cord as he lied helpless in the snow. After an event like this, you would think that Scott would want pity. In actuality, Hogsett describes this experience as “the highlight of his entire life.” He has no desire for sympathetic smiles from empathetic bystanders. He’s living a normal life, married, an athlete, drinking, and watching the one sport he used to play, baseball. Like Zupan, Hogsett has found redemption in wheelchair rugby and was also apart of the two medal-winning teams in 2004 and in 2008. He would not trade anything that has happened for an able-body and has made a close bond with fellow rugby teammate, Andy Cohn.

As we have read and it is true, that this bunch of quadriplegics have found refuge in wheelchair rugby. We have journeyed into two player’s lives of the gold-medal winning rugby team.  They enjoy the lives they have and would not trade them for anything in the world. On an interview on Larry King Live, King assumed they would love to go back to the way they were saying that if there was a cure, he was sure they would take it. Zupan answered, “Not necessarily. Not necessarily – this is one of the best things that has ever happened to us.”

Work Cited:

Dickerson, John. Rolling Thunder. Times Publications; Article. Strickbine Publishing, Inc. 2009.

Rubin, Henry Alex. Shapiro, Dana Adam. Murderball. Paramount Pictures; MTV films. 22 July 2005; Dolby Digital

Wikipedia. Murderball.

CNN. TV; Interview. Larry King Live.


10 Responses to “The Victory of Pain”

  1. William Ten Eyck Says:

    I agree with the points you make about Murderball drastically changing these two men’s lives for the better. yet i am not sure whether or not these men, if given the opportunity would remain in the chairs or would choose to be able-bodied again. One of these men mentioned that after being injured you, “either make it or you don’t”, by this he means you can psychologiclly accept your new fate or you may not. I wonder what percentage of people actually grow to accept and cherish their new life, as did the 11 men on the national Murderball team. I would argue that these 11 men who have found far more success after their injuries are in the minory of quadripligics, i think that most disabled people do not have the same opportunity to join a olympic team, and would rather choose to become able-bodied again. Yet being able-bodied i will never truly know how a disabled person feels about this issue.

  2. David Castleman Says:

    I found this blog to be well written and kind of inspiring. Even though I couldn’t quite find your thesis, I still grasped what you were saying. It’s an inspirational film and you did well with it. I like how you pulled information from outside sources rather than relying strictly on the film, although I would have liked to have seen in-text citations so I could know when specifically those sources were used.

  3. jonsostre Says:


    I enjoyed reading your blog about Murderball. I found it to be well-written and informative. You gave us good insight and background information o the film that not many others would know. I agree with William when he says he doesnt know if the men in the wheelchairs would decide to get back to normal if given the opportunity. He is right because not all quadriplegics are going to have the opportunity to play rugby. But different people have different feeling about their lives and how they would prefer to live it if an accident does occur. Overall, great job!

  4. waitinontheworldtochange Says:


    I enjoyed reading your final blog. Good Job on summarizing the movie, however I believe you’re supposed to take a more analytical eye to it. You made it uplifting and inspirational. I agree with the previous comments, that although these athletes wouldn’t take their injury back, it doesn’t meant that all quadriplegics wouldn’t.

  5. mdchristmann Says:

    Though you do re-tell the story a little, you have a good point that these individuals wouldn’t change anything if they could. I do agree with the others when saying that not everyone would chose to stay in such a state though. Being injured before, I know I would take the cure over being good at a sport anyday.

  6. lrashaw Says:

    I must say you did an excellent job on this paper.

  7. lrashaw Says:


    I do not agree with the point that they would take the cure to be able bodied if it was handed to them. In the film, I believe they firmly took the stance that they loved the lives they leaded and wouldnt change it. Minor detail analytically, however, a wonderful paper. I enjoyed reading it and I can tell you have spent a lot of time on it.

  8. John Says:

    I like the blog it was well written. I like that you did use outside examples and related them all to your thesis. It was understanable and relateable. The examples were clear and related to your thesis.

  9. jspector Says:

    You did a pretty good job of summarizing the documentary, and also pulled in outside information. I enjoyed the way you organized your paragraphs, as well. It used the information you pulled from the movie and your analysis together in a manner that worked very well. Good job.

  10. jaybria Says:

    Hey Justin Mims,
    I think you did an o.k job overall. I really like how you let us explore the lives on the people in the movie. I would have like to hear more about how u felt about it, in your words.

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