Young athletes and cardiac risks …

The death of a high school basketball star in Michigan re-ignited the debate over screening young athletes for cardiac risks. Fennville High School's Wes Leonard collapsed on the basketball court March 3 and later died, shortly after making a dramatic game-winning layup to cap his team's undefeated season. A study in Circulation, released this week, only added to concerns by stating that the risk of sudden cardiac death among athletes is underestimated. The study found 45 such deaths among NCAA athletes in a recent five-year period. An Associated Press story chronicled the debate on existing athlete health screening and whether it needs to be beefed up with the inclusion of EKGs, which measure the heart's electrical activity. While EKGs — electrocardiograms — are recommended by the European Society of Cardiology and the International Olympic Committee, they aren't recommended by the American Heart Association as part of a standard sports physical. Dr. Barry Maron of the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation weighed in on the debate. According to the Associated Press story, Maron said it isn't practical to mandate the $25 to $100 EKG tests for millions of U.S. high school and college athletes. They don't detect all the problems that can lead to those deaths, says Maron. The new study couldn't tell the causes of players' deaths, just that they were heart-related. Then there's the ethical question of testing only athletes when youths not in organized sports sometimes die of these same heart conditions. "Each and every sudden death is of course tragic," says Maron. But, "they're just not that common." Moreover, EKGs can falsely signal a problem that requires more costly testing to rule out. A study published last year found 16 percent of routine athlete EKGs produced false-positive results. Maron helped develop the AHA recommendations for sports physicals, including standard questions by doctors about whether young athletes Continue Reading

UMass-Lowell professor to monitor athlete health at Olympics

LOWELL, Mass. — A University of Massachusetts Lowell professor is headed to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, but not to compete for medals. Physical therapy professor Alexandre Lopes is among the international experts in Pyeongchang studying the performance of the athletes for the International Olympic Committee. The research team is gathering data on how many athletes sustain injuries or fall ill during the games. The information collected will be used to enhance athletes' experiences at future Olympics, whether it's improving how venues are constructed or upgrading equipment. Lopes says the data will inform medical professionals and the Olympic committees on where changes are needed to protect athlete health. This will be Lopes' sixth Olympic games. The games start Friday. Continue Reading

Nassar’s abuse reflects more than 50 years of men’s power over female athletes

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.) Anne Blaschke, College of the Holy Cross (THE CONVERSATION) “You’ve got a lucky boyfriend.” These were the words the physician’s assistant conducting my gynecological exam in 1998 uttered as he suggestively smiled down at me over my paper gown. I lay on the exam table, 20 years old, wondering what to say back. Feeling angry, embarrassed and violated, I called my mom afterward. We both reported him. Whether he still works there, I don’t know. That experience disgusted me then and now, from my current perspective as a historian who studies gender and American political culture. But I recognized that I was fortunate in several ways. My mother believed me. It was an inappropriate comment perhaps perversely meant as flirtation, however predatory, rather than an assault. And I never had to see him again. America’s elite female gymnasts had far more devastating experiences under recently convicted sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar. On Jan. 24, the court sentenced Nassar to 40 to 175 years for his sexual abuse of more than 150 young female athletes, in the biggest sexual abuse crisis in American sport history. In the context of #MeToo, Nassar is perhaps the only sexual predator more monstrous in the public eye than Harvey Weinstein. But a look at the history of women athletes in America shows that Nassar’s abuse represents a historical pattern of sexual violation of young females by male power brokers in sport. After World War II, millions of women streamed into sport, where men had increasing access to, and control over, young female athletes. Most sport leaders have supported athletes rather than abused them, and postwar federal laws like Title IX and the Amateur Sports Act aimed to empower athletes across gender. But since educational institutions, Olympic authorities and the federal government have not Continue Reading

National Labor Relations Board ruling could be a game-changer for NCAA athletes at private schools

Collegiate basketball and football players at private universities across the country had cause to celebrate last week, and the reason had nothing to do with NCAA tournament berths or national rankings. In what experts are lauding as a significant legal victory – if only for a temporary window of time – the general counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a memorandum that declared college athletes at private schools like Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, are employees, and therefore are entitled to certain rights under federal law. The decision made by the NLRB general counsel, Richard Griffin Jr., could pave the way for dramatic change on college campuses in the future – where Division-I athletes generate hundreds of millions of dollars for schools through lucrative TV contracts and sponsorship deals. There could also be a wave of legal cases that center around perceived violations of the National Labor Relations Act by the NCAA, college sports’ regulatory body. “The decision (by Griffin) does not reflect an alternative world, but a real world,” says Washington D.C. attorney Michael Hausfeld, who represents former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon. O’Bannon was the lead plaintiff in the landmark class-action case against the NCAA, in which he and other former athletes accused the NCAA of failing to compensate college players when using their names, likeness and image. A federal judge ruled in 2014 that the NCAA had violated antitrust laws. “If you look at decisions which have come out of the federal bench, including the O’Bannon decision, (courts) have clearly recognized the relationship between the athletes and the NCAA and the universities as a labor market,” says Hausfeld. “If you concede legally that that is a labor market, then there has to be an employer and an employee. And since it is the athletes that are under contract to Continue Reading

Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby: They’re college athletes, neither amateurs nor pros

WASHINGTON — One of major-college sports’ leading voices on Monday provided a different answer to the hotly debated question of the connection between college athletes and amateurism.Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby told the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics: “I don’t think they’re amateurs. They’re college athletes.”Bowlsby made the comment during a panel discussion titled, “The Future of College Football: A Focus of Finances and Player Benefits and Protections.” It came in the context of a broader point he was making about the relationship colleges have with their big-time athletes, one that he says is unique to American higher education.It’s also a relationship that has been — and remains — the subject of several antitrust lawsuits against various conferences and/or the NCAA regarding the association’s limits on the compensation athletes can receive for playing college sports. One of the primary issues has been what the NCAA contends are the connections between the compensation limits, amateurism, education and whether fan interest would wane if athletes could receive benefits beyond those covered under the current version of an athletic scholarship.At present, scholarships basically are confined to an athletes’ actual cost of attending college.In an interview after his appearance before the panel, Bowlsby discussed in general terms how he defines professionals and amateurs, as well as the prospect of schools being able to do more for athletes’ health care across a broad spectrum, possibly including so-called loss-of-value protection for athletes who are eligible to turn pro but stay in school and then suffer an injury that affects when they get selected in a pro draft. These are issues that Bowlsby said athletics administrators are “spending a lot of time talking about” and need to figure out.The Knight Commission, meanwhile, issued a Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: Former health care exec sued for sexually harassing two sales reps with inappropriate comments

A former executive at a health care company that makes orthopedic devices for athletes is being sued for sexually harassing two sales representatives with his locker room antics, a lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit by Danielle Calvello and Michael Bordieri contends DJO Global Inc. retaliated against the sales reps after they complained about exec Steve Scansaroli’s sleazy behavior. Scansaroli allegedly displayed a photo of Calvello in a bikini from her Facebook page at a company meeting, referred to her breasts as “built-in floatation devices,” and made inappropriate comments about the plaintiffs’ romantic relationship with each other, according to the suit filed Monday in Manhattan Federal Court. “We felt we couldn’t challenge him or our careers would be jeopardized, but obviously it was demeaning and embarrassing,” Calvello told the Daily News. FOLLOW THE DAILY NEWS ON FACEBOOK. CLICK HERE TO "LIKE." Scansaroli may now end up regretting photos of himself that he posted on Instagram and Facebook. They are attached to the suit as proof of his offensive behavior. One photo shows Scansaroli, 38, in what appears to be a museum where he seems to be straddling a thermonuclear bomb . In a second picture, he is clowning around in a tuxedo, grasping with both hands a giant ice cream cone protruding from his crotch. Calvello, 30, had joined DJO in 2009 and began dating Bordieri, 31, after he was hired in 2011. It was common knowledge among co-workers that they were a couple. Scansaroli couldn’t let the opportunity pass to make a sleazy remark when Calvello called in sick, allegedly suggesting to her boyfriend that she must be out due to rough sex, the suit alleges. When Calvello mentioned that she had a headache, Scansaroli responded, “You must have gotten your head hit against the bed board” during sex with Bordieri, the suit states. But her bikini Continue Reading

Take it from the Running Doc: any athlete can get a kick out of an ‘Exercise High’

Dear Running Doc: I am 45 years old and have heard of the "Runner's High" that runner friends have experienced while running. Quite frankly, I never believed them, despite all that is written on the Internet. Then, while running the NYC Half Marathon, I think at about mile 4, I felt a euphoric rush and I felt light on my feet. I had a personal best time and think this was that "high." I did nothing different except I tried a faster pace. What do you think, did I get that "Runner's High?” Does it really exist or was I just happy I was feeling great during the run? Bill B. Albertson, NY. Thanks Bill for the question. "Runner's High" absolutely exists. Many athletes and patients have recounted the exact feeling you describe. In fact, athletes in all sports that do a repetitive rhythmic exercise like swimming, cycling, roller blading, ice skating, etc., have all related this phenomena. That's why I call it an "Exercise High", to include all these sports. I know this for sure because I too have experienced it! Permit me to self-indulge and describe the setting and how I first experienced an "Exercise High." Interesting Bill, that you live in Albertson, NY. There used to be a Day Camp on IU Willets Road called Rolling Hills Day Camp (that property is now condos) where I worked as a teenager at the pool and where I first felt an "Exercise High." The conditions at Rolling Hills Day Camp in 1971 could hardly have been less promising for any kind of positive life-changing experience, because I was under tremendous psychological pressure at the time. At 16, I was the youngest candidate ever to apply for the position of pool director at Rolling Hills, then a very swanky and highly competitive day camp. To get the job, I would have to pass the tough Nassau County life guard test within six days. The test included speed and distance swims, a long and demanding haul even for athletic youngsters in tip-top shape. Even worse, we had Continue Reading

Syracuse University athlete from Queens found dead in Times Square hotel

An overachieving Syracuse University track sprinter was found dead in a Times Square hotel Saturday morning following a night out with friends, officials said. Sabrina Cammock, 21, of Queens, was discovered inside her room at the Hotel Edison on W. 47th St. about 9:20 a.m. Cammock, a senior on spring break, was sharing a room with a group of girlfriends when she died, a police source said. “They all went to sleep,” the source said, “and when they woke up, she didn’t wake up.” Cammock was found in her bed. The cause of her death was not immediately clear, officials said. Her family was stunned. “She’s better than anybody you know,” Cammock’s cousin Kemal Brown, 34, said quietly as he stood in a daze outside of the young woman’s home in Jamaica Estates. “She’s a baby and she's gone.” "I’ve never seen anything like this around me before,” he said. There were no signs of trauma on Cammock’s body, according to police sources. No drugs were found in the room to suggest an overdose, the officials said. An autopsy has been scheduled to find out how she died, officials said. Cammock was studying public health at Syracuse’s David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, according to her college website. She was also a member of the women’s track and field team where she excelled at the 60-meter to 400-meter sprints. Cammock recently placed second in the 60-meter dash at the 2015 Upstate Challenge with a time of 7.62. She also finished second in the 60-meter dash at the Cornell Marc Denault Invitational, with a time of 7.69. Her best time was in her junior year, when she ran a 60-meter race in 7.55. She was also among a team of track runners who broke her school’s 4x100-meter relay record last year. Her teammates were Continue Reading

Texas lawmakers prepared to pull funding for $10 million steroid testing system for high school athletes

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — When Texas officials launched a massive public high school steroids testing program over fears of rampant doping from the football fields to the tennis courts, they promised a model program for the rest of the country to follow. But almost no one did. And after spending $10 million testing more than 63,000 students to catch just a handful of cheaters, Texas lawmakers appear likely to defund the program this summer. If they do, New Jersey and Illinois will have the only statewide high school steroids testing programs left. Even those who pushed for the Texas program in 2007 now call it a colossal misfire, either a waste of money or too poorly designed to catch the drug users some insist are slipping through the cracks. "I believe we made a huge mistake," said Don Hooton, who started the Taylor Hooton Foundation for steroid abuse education after his 17-year-old son's 2003 suicide was linked to the drug's use, and was one of the key advocates in creating the Texas program. RELATED: A-ROD MENDS RELATIONSHIP WITH ANTI-STEROID CRUSADER DON HOOTON BY MAKING 'SINCERE' APOLOGY Hooton believes the low number of positive tests doesn't mean Texas athletes are clean, only that they're not getting caught because of inadequate testing and loopholes that allow them to cheat the process. "Coaches, schools, and politicians have used the abysmal number of positive tests to prove there's no steroid problem," Hooton said. "What did we do here? We just lulled the public to sleep." Texas wasn't the first state to test high schoolers. New Jersey and Florida were first and Illinois started about the same time as Texas. But the Lone Star State employed its typical bigger-is-better swagger by pumping in millions to sweep the state for cheaters. At the time, Texas had more than 780,000 public high school athletes, by far the most in the nation. A positive test would kick the star quarterback or point guard out of the lineup for at least 30 Continue Reading

Head-on collision in Morocco between truck, bus carrying young athletes kills 31

RABAT, Morocco — A fiery head-on collision between a semi-trailer truck and a bus carrying a delegation of young athletes in southern Morocco on Friday killed 31 people and injured nine, according to the state news agency and local media reports. The news agency quoted authorities saying the crash took place just before sunrise at 7 a.m. in the district of Chbika, near the southern desert city of Tan-Tan. A video posted by the French-language economic daily L’Economiste shows the flaming wreckage of the tour bus, which caught fire after hitting what the newspaper identified as a tanker truck carrying hydrocarbons. People wander around the flaming frame of the bus — the truck has been flattened and apparently completely destroyed — in a bleak desert landscape. According to details provided by the news site, the bus was carrying young athletes and officials from the Ministry of Youth and Sports that were involved in a national sports competition. The Les Ecos newspaper reported on its website that the athletes were from the northern town of Bouznika and from Laayoune, a city further to the south in the annexed Western Sahara territory. It added that celebrated 10-kilometer runner Hassan Issengar, 31, was among the dead. According to the U.S. State Department website, traffic accidents are a “significant hazard” in Morocco. Although there are modern highways between the main cities, the rest of the country is served by two lane roads, often in poor condition and reckless driving habits, such as overtaking on curves, are quite common. According to the World Health Organization, some 5,217 people died in 2010 from road accidents. New stricter laws have been put in place, however, to make up for historically light enforcement of traffic rules. ON A MOBILE DEVICE?  WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading