Dear John: I agree, the anti-football focus avoids facts from other sports. However, your article of Aug. 29 avoids the facts, too. Fact is out-of-season training is killing kids. It killed Dominick Bess. Of the four nontraumatic causes of death in working athletes, exertional collapse associated with sickle cell trait (ECAST) fits best for Dominick; we as yet have more mystery than clues surrounding his death.
In the NCAA, we are preventing ECAST death in football.
The "game" will protect itself and it has plenty of defenders. You, too, apparently.
Who is defending the welfare of the players? Few are. We don’t need better rules — we need the existing rules enforced. We need accountability in our training regimens; it doesn’t exist currently.
More coverage by athletic trainers? In every NCAA football-related death, there has been an athletic trainer present. Sometimes doing nothing. Sometimes doing the wrong thing. Sometimes, there is nothing that can be done as the player has been pushed to the brink prior to any intervention.
I’m all for having coverage by athletic trainers. I’m more in favor of fewer (zero) players needing an athletic trainer as they’ve been subjected to poorly organized workouts that endanger their health and welfare.
I have never read you prior to stumbling on last week’s column. I trust it’s not representative of your writings and professional leanings.
The death of Dominick was preventable and the preventative efforts should be championed versus pilloried as part and parcel of a relentless assault on football.
With kindest personal regards — Scott Anderson, ATC, University of Oklahoma, Head Athletic Trainer
Dear Scott: I appreciate hearing from you.
I had also speculated that sickle cell trait fit with Dominick in my initial draft last week but cut that part for space and because I thought it best to hold off until there is a final coroner's report.
My intent was not so much to defend football as it was to expose the dangers of other sports that go largely unreported and to hold those sports to the same standard the media are applying to football. Just two days ago, another big-city newspaper issued an editorial asking readers: “Are you comfortable with growing evidence of (football’s) long-term dangers?”
No mention anywhere, though, that the same long-term dangers exist in hockey, lacrosse, soccer, wrestling and even behind the plate in baseball.
You are correct that we need better enforcement of current rules — I called for the same at the end of last week’s column. Nonetheless, we could do with some rules improvements, too, for instance, rules that would make rogue coaches accountable.
True, an athletic trainer is no guarantee of improved safety if he or she is sitting there doing nothing. I pointed out an athletic trainer’s inaction, dealing with the stunned umpire in Cleveland, in last week’s piece.
In short, defense of player welfare and preventative efforts are championed in this space regularly, certainly not pilloried.