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Players Should Watch Out for Their Own

  • SI.com, Friday, January 4, 2008 2:30 PM
Yet another astonishing death rocked the soccer world last Saturday as Motherwell midfielder Phil O'Donnell collapsed from heart failure during his club's match against Dundee United. O'Donnell joins the lamentably growing list of players who've collapsed and died on the field while playing in the prime of their lives. Antonio Puerta of Spanish club Sevilla was the other high profile tragedy this season. SI.com's Gabrielle Marcotti says it's "totally unreasonable" that "very fit and healthy young men [are] dying on the job."

Following O'Donnell's death, the Professional Footballer's Association asked that clubs do a better job screening for heart conditions and other potentially life-threatening complications. Marcotti contends that the onus should be on the players, not the clubs or anyone else, to safeguard the health of their fellow professionals. It's that way in other sports, for instance. It's not that the clubs and their staff can't be trusted, but there is, Marcotti says, "a potential conflict of interest between the athlete and his employer ... when it comes to a player's health."

Doctors work for the clubs, and their duty is to ensure that each player is able to perform at their maximum. Who's to say that the dietary supplement that one club has their players take wouldn't trigger an allergic reaction in some players? As one expert says, "the club is only interested in the player's health as it relates to his playing career." Athletes must also have their own medical doctors -- which many don't have. That means the onus is on the player's unions to mandate and/or arrange for that.

Read the whole story at SI.com »

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