Man, if I didn’t know any better, it sure sounds like there are a lot of haunted head coaches in college football. As well as a lot of head coaches who aren’t doctors and shouldn’t play them in an NCAA rules change debate.
“How do you do it [slow the game down] for a guy who is out there for seven, eight, nine plays in a row,” Calhoun told reporters this week, “especially if it’s a kid you have to manage that maybe has a sickle cell trait or asthma.”
- Attaching pace of play and player safety to sickle cell trait seems to be a reach. No Division I player has ever died during a game due to sickle cell trait. Every documented case of death due to SCT has occurred during practice or offseason conditioning.
Sickle cell trait is the leading killer of Division I players since 2000. The inherited condition is passed along genetically. In small percentages among mostly African-Americans, it causes blood cells to “sickle” during times of exertion.
- Oklahoma, among other schools, has had award winners play with the condition. If coaches and trainers are educated, they know enough to ease such players into drills to avoid overexertion.
- The NCAA has mandated testing for sickle cell trait since August 2010. A coaching and training staff would know if player had the trait.
- The last documented player to die from the condition was Ole Miss’ Bennie Abram. He died four years ago Wednesday.
- Seven, eight, nine plays in a row? Scott Anderson scoffs. The respected Oklahoma head athletic trainer is one of the leading authorities on SCT. Anderson is also the former president of the College Athletics Trainers Society (CATS).
“All any [unhealthy] player ever has to do is ‘take a knee’, or, if down … stay down,” Anderson wrote in an email. “With a downed player … all play stops! Medical assessment ensues, the player is removed from play.”
Unhealthy ain’t the same as poorly conditioned. (Or out of position, for that matter.) It makes you wonder if some of these guys have any clue about how to deal with the kids who really are a health risk.