Personal anecdote: During my sophomore year in college, I was
getting a booty call engaged in a mutually fulfilling session of physical and emotional intimacy when my girlfriend accidentally knocked a 50-pound stereo speaker onto my face. You read that correctly: She dropped a 50-pound stereo speaker on my face. I might have been able to catch it, but she was going through that adorable "neurotically insecure with her body" phase that all college girls seem to go through, and she had demanded I keep my eyes closed during The Sex. And since I was simultaneously going through that "I'd do anything for the booty" stage that most college guys go through, I happily capitulated. So I was just lying there -- probably with a big, goofy smile on my face -- when the world exploded into a dazzling array of multi-colored wonder. I opened my eyes and saw three things: Stars, a geyser of my own blood, and my shrieking girlfriend. Since she was too distraught to do anything but scream and run around the room in circles, I was forced to staunch the blood flow with a pair of my own jeans and call a friend for help. He showed up with this little first aid kit and said, "I read somewhere that 80 percent of head wounds look worse than they really are." I showed him mine, and then he said, "Yeah, let's go to the hospital."
It was a big party weekend at my school, so it took 20 minutes to convince the nurses that having a 50-pound piece of stero equipment dropped on my face had nothing whatsoever to do with binge drinking. When they finally let me into the emergency room, the doctor sagely informed me that the rogue speaker had "obliterated" my nose. It was a compound fracture, which in medical terms means "the broken ends of bone have pierced the skin." Yeah, it was ugly. I was then introduced to the transcendent joys of local anesthetic and emergency reconstructive surgery.
I left the hospital with two black eyes, 28 stitches, and a freaky mask to wear in case, as the doctor put it, I was "stupid enough to want to play sports before the nose heals." Which of course is exactly what I did. Me and some buddies went to the co-recreational gym a few nights later, "just to shoot around," and ended up in a five-on-five game against four brutish dudes and a girl. Since I was injured, my friends agreed that I should guard the girl, because all things being equal she should have been the least physical of the five. Two plays into the game, however, she whacked me hard across the face while going for the ball. Fortunately I had my mask on, right? Wrong. I was too embarrassed to wear it. The next day, I had to go back to the nose doctor and explain why my nose was now sitting sideways on my face. He responded by ramming a couple wooden sticks up my nose holes and cracking the bone back into place. Good times.
My point? If you break your nose and choose to play hoops, just wear the damn mask.
Cost and availability: Amazon.com has a limited variety of decent nose guards. The Bangerz Nose Guard is $29.95, and the Mueller Nose Guard is $39.00. There's also a generic nose guard for $39.90.