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Supplemental information pertaining to Coaching Freshman & Junior Varsity High School Football by John T. Reed

Screening for fatal heart defect
The 11/05/07 San Ramon Valley Times had an article by Suzanne Bohan about a heart defect that can cause sudden death during extreme exertion.

According to one study, the incidence of this cause of death is one in every 217,000 athletes (per season I surmise). The test is expensive ($82 in one Italian program) so many will look at the low incidence and reject the test choosing instead to take their chances. However, the statistics on how rarely it happens will be cold comfort if it happens to your child. I did not have my sons tested when they played because I was not aware of any such test. I would have had them tested if I had heard of it. They are now all grown or finished with their playing careers.

A mandatory program of such testing in Italy sharply reduced the number of such deaths among tested athletes.

The Anthony Bates Foundation focuses on this. As you probably can guess, Anthony Bates was a football player who died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) , the medical name of this disease, on July 31, 2000. He was 20. Presumably, having this test done would have revealed the heart defect and he would have stopped playing thereby saving his life.

Stanford’s Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center is studying this in part to determine whether the cost of it can be justified in light of its rarity. That question from society’s perspective. The American Heart Association said it “cannot justify such a recommendation at this time.” Parents are not society. From their perspective, the test should be done in my opinion. At the very least, the $82 or whatever provides peace of mind. At most, it will save your child’s life.

I believe football coaches have an absolute moral, ethical, and legal obligation to inform parents and athletes of this danger and the existence of tests to detect it and to make sure they know that the typical player screening physical does NOT include such tests. The test requires an EKG (electrocardiogram) and maybe supplemented with ultrasound scans like those used to view fetuses in the womb.

Article on hazing
I discussed preventing upperclassmen from hazing your freshman or J.V. football players in the Right Situation chapter of Coaching Freshman & Junior Varsity High School Football. There was an excellent, front-page article by Jackie Burrell about the subject in the 11/4/07 Contra Costa Times newspaper. (