Sudden Deaths Of Athletes Should Be Very Troubling To The Sports Community

By Gregory Moore
Updated: October 17, 2005

Shawntinice Polk was an up and coming college basketball player who passed away September due to blood clots in her legs. She was not participating in any athletic activity at the time of her passing.

SAN ANTONIO, TX. — Jason Collier is the latest athlete to suddenly pass away in a ‘non-athletic’ fashion. Earlier this past summer, Thomas Herrion passed away and doctors later found out he had heart disease. Shawntinice Polk, a top women’s basketball player at the University of Arizona, passed away after collapsing at the school’s basketball arena. The cause of her death was blood clots had formed in her legs and caused the cardiac death. The cause of Collier’s death isn’t known yet.

These deaths aren’t the only cases out there. If you start adding up the deaths of athletes from heat strokes, playing conditions and what I want to call non-athletic activities, how many cases could we be talking about in this country from athletes of all ages? I wouldn’t start speculating on that number but I am sure we are talking more than a few dozen. Yet what I am wondering is where are these symptoms coming from in the cases like the afore mentioned outside of Herrion’s case. What did some of these players who died in their sleep or collapsed from just a normal activity do that brought about such tragic ends to their productive lives? Did these athletes take some type of medication prior to them doing the last activity that was before their passing? Were there any pre-existing symptoms that they told family members of medical staff personnel about? These are just a few of the million questions out there that need to be asked and answered because we are dealing with something that is considered ‘normal’ in the lives of these athletes.

With the passing of Collier and Polk, the medical field is probably more than likely looking into these million questions for the very answers they need. Sports medicine staffs may be right now looking at their practices and procedures and trying to make sure that they are following the standard operating policy book they have on file. Many staff members may also be checking to make sure that whatever medical and/or dietary supplements for these athletes are as safe as possible. In something like this, it will probably be safer for these medical professionals to take the extra care and time needed on doing such research so that they can give the rest of us their findings.

Should the sports community be worried about these cases? Sure they should be and I have no doubt in my mind that the owners of professional sports teams, the athletic directors and presidents of the colleges and universities, the high school administrators and even the volunteer coaches are all acutely aware of the situation at hand are working diligently with medical professionals to find the answers to those burning questions. Nobody wants to see another athlete die no matter what the circumstance may be. The sudden passing of a few athletes is alarming and compelling but the sports community is doing its very best to give these families and the rest of us solid answers to our questions. Let’s just all be diligent and let these professionals do what they must do to help make our ‘sports’ community a more safer place than what it already is.

VIKINGS’ DEBACLE SHOULDN’T BE A BIG SURPRISE Outrage over what several Minnesota Vikings’ players did a week or so ago did on a couple of luxury yachts is still coming forth today and many in the NFL are outraged. The politicians are beyond seething with rage and even the new owner has hired a former FBI agent for ‘security’ reasons. Yet it really didn’t surprise me that such activity of a sexual nature may have taken place during that eventful night and it really shouldn’t be surprising to any of us. Have you seen how our society acts these days towards sexual content and entertainment? If you haven’t been out of the cave in decades then you are going to be in for a shock because in 2005, nothing is out of bounds when it comes to such behavior and it definitely isn’t just relegated to what’s on television or in the movies. The images are becoming part of our every day decorum for some people’s lives as well.

The rumors of lascivious behavior by professional athletes has always been the lore of our entertainment world but this little escapade brought the rumors to full Technicolor and right into our newspapers and our family discussions. The fact that adults would leave behind the wares of their sexual escapades and then to have the utter gall to say, “it didn’t happen like that” is taken right from a script for “Desperate Housewives” or some other racy show that is currently on the small screen these days. Should anyone be surprised that complete denial from the participants be coming forth now? Can anyone who is in a management position at Vikings’ headquarters not be ashamed that some of their employees acted in such an irresponsible way?

What is probably more troubling is the fact that these players, and many like them, simply do not pay attention to the history events of such instances of the past. Anyone remember the Tailhook scandal? That was the case that brought about the sexual harassment/discrimination revolution in the work place. Do you think that the players remember such an incident? Probably not. They probably will not remember that incident until one of the female crewmembers from the charter boat company sues one of them or collectively for sexual harassment. Could this happen? You bet it could. Read the stories from the crewmembers and you can see such civil action being prepared.

The bottom line is this. Athletes are human and they have human frailties. They want the same pleasures that the ‘average’ person wants in their lives. Our society has made some drastic changes in which many once ‘taboo’ institutions are now commonplace. Has the moral fabric of our society been whittled down to bare threads and fibers? It probably has but that isn’t the fault of a bunch of overzealous athletes looking for a little fun and games on what they think is a private party boat. If the truth was to really be told on all of this mess, fingers could be pointing right back at us common citizens because we have allowed such practices to go forth for years. The Vikings’ pleasure cruise just happens to be one of those times when one of America’s dirty little secrets came out and was exposed to the whole world.