Doctors and athletes have never had a firm relationship. Just think of the countless times you’ve heard an athlete explain how a doctor told him he’d never walk again, only to have a great comeback season.
Doctors contrast sports agents. Agents try to get deals, and doctors seem to write them away. In one scenario, doctors have become the hero.
With the recent trade of Eddy Curry from the Chicago Bulls, the debate of risk versus reward has again come into play.
After suffering due to a rare heart ailment, Curry refused to take a DNA test suggested by the Bulls franchise.
Many view DNA testing as unfair to players due to the Patient’s Bill of Rights. If a team could test a player’s DNA for possible health defects, it would likely discourage a franchise from signing him to a long term deal, limiting their career and earnings.
Sure, it’s easy to view this as biased. After all, athletes overcome health problems all the time. Look at Jerome Bettis and his battle with asthma.
However, people fail to realize that many tests administered by medical professionals are not just to measure an athlete’s level of productivity, but their overall health as well.
San Francisco 49ers’ lineman, Thomas Herrion collapsed and died following a preseason game with the Denver Broncos. Although Herrion participated in regularly scheduled physicals and various other medical precautions, an autopsy revealed that Herriod had a history of heart disease and evidence of previous heart trouble when he collapsed.
Last season, All-Pro linebacker Teddy Bruschi suffered an unexpected stroke forcing him to take this season off. In this instance doctors concluded that DNA tests would have been pivotal in preventing health complications and death. Amy Martin, a forensic pathologist and deputy coroner said, “From the time that he (Herrion) died, something happened a week or so earlier.” Martin found microscopic evidence of heart necrosis during the Herrion autopsy.
“Whether he was aware of that was not clear. There are a lot of instances where people have heart attacks and are not aware of them, especially when your job requires you to do things that require you to get hurt. He may not have thought much about it.”
Though many teams conduct tests to determine if the risks out weigh the rewards of a certain player, many teams have begun DNA testing to prevent long term health issues or even death. Players must realize that there are more important things than guaranteed millions and a lavish lifestyle. It’s known as your overall health. Just ask the Herrion family.
Morgan L. McDaniel is a sophomore architecture student from Detroit. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org