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Fake It Till You Make It

Injury timeouts prevent uncomfortable situations

By D.P. Sorensen
Posted // January 30,2013 -

It has now been decided that “injury timeouts,” for many years a key feature of professional tennis, will be extended to all walks of life. This means that if whatever you are doing is not going well, you will be permitted to take an injury timeout, the duration of which will be calibrated according to the activity in which you are engaged. The International Commission on Injury Timeouts will assign the duration of the injury timeout on the basis of a complicated formula whose values will be determined by the inverse ratio of the physico-cognitive continuum.

The I.C.O.I.T.O has apparently been contemplating an expansion of the controversial injury-timeout provision for several years, but sprang into action following the uproar caused by an injury-timeout incident in January’s Australian Open. After failing to capitalize on five match points in the semifinal against young American phenom Sloane Stephens, Belarus’s Victoria Azarenka announced she was taking an injury timeout.

Before slumping in her courtside chair after losing her serve, Ms. Azarenka had shown no signs of injury, other than perhaps a sprain to her self-confidence. (Spectators unfamiliar with the finer points of professional tennis, especially ladies’ tennis, might have come to the conclusion that Ms. Azarenka was in the throes of some excruciating physical pain, given that she let out a blood-curdling shriek every time she swung her racket. Aficionados of the game know that the shrieks, squeals and grunts constitute “voice work,” which is as essential to the physics of tennis as “foot work.”)

Ms. Azarenka later explained that it was necessary to take a 10-minute break, during which her opponent cooled her heels and lost momentum, to “unlock my rib.” She could have reduced the duration of her injury timeout had she remained on the court, but she didn’t want to “take off my dress on the court.” Experts in the field say that not only do locked ribs necessitate the removal of tennis attire, but they are also notoriously difficult to treat, and many times require a trained locksmith to locate the right key.

According to Vittorio Pippelini, head of the I.C.O.I.T.O. and former international soccer star, extending injury timeouts to the general population will make life a lot easier.

“We realize that your injury fakery is now endemic to all your sports, not just your notorious soccer, tennis, football and your basketball,” Pippelini says. “It doesn’t seem at all fair that your average amateur citizen shouldn’t avail himself or herself of the injury-timeout toolbox.”

Mr. Pippelini said his organization will soon publish A Guideline for Injury Timeouts in All Walks of Life. But so useful is the guideline that I.C.O.I.T.O. has already made its handbook available on its website, The first section provides a list of approved activities for which injury timeouts are optional and, in other cases, mandatory. For instance, a child with his or her hand caught in the cookie jar can at any juncture demand an injury timeout, during which interval he or she may absent himself or herself, in the process setting up the alibi of, “Hey, I wasn’t anywhere near the cookie jar.”

The injury timeout thus provides an escape clause that will obviate the time-honored “caught with hand in cookie jar” method of determining guilt. More important, no longer will the popular “caught with your pants down” situation be proof of infidelity. A spouse enjoying extracurricular sexy time, finding himself or herself caught in a pants-down situation with his or her nonspouse, can simply claim an injury timeout and leave the building. Depending on how flagrante the delicto is, the party can avail himself or herself of the Azaranka convention, and go get his or her rib unlocked.

The I.C.O.I.T.O. handbook provides a comprehensive list of other activities approved for injury timeouts. Among those who will benefit from injury timeouts are students stuck for an answer on a test, drivers caught going over the speed limit, party-goers blanking on a guest’s name, Beyonce forgetting the words to the national anthem, Bill Clinton questioned on sex with a chubby intern, Rick Perry trying to remember the Department of Education, and John Swallow discovering he’s being secretly taped at Krispy Kreme.

The practice of taking injury timeouts will in time be seen to be one of humankind’s greatest innovations, making life easier for professionals and amateurs alike. But the greatest boon may turn out to be the injury timeout each of us can take when Mr. Death comes knocking at the door.

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