I was surprised to read in the 1/26/16 New York Times that teen and college athletes are more at risk for cardiac arrest in basketball and soccer than in football. I have always thought football was the most dangerous sport. The article was about the discussion now taking place as to whether college athletes should be screened with an EKG or cardiac tracing.(Sitting watching my own son play varsity football when he was in the tenth grade was always a hard time for me and I was very glad when he decided to switch to acting the next year, despite the coach's protests.)
Because many coaches are all about winning, I think parents need to talk to their son's doctor about any cardiac problems in their families before he starts playing. Is there a family history of cardiac problems at an early age, any sudden unexplained deaths, or any anesthetic problems? Anesthetic problems can be because of a condition called Malignant Hyperthermia which can occur in connection with congenital muscle disorders or myopathies where the heart can be involved. It would also be a good idea to talk with older family members to see what medical problems have occurred in previous generations. A yearly complete physical examination where the youth is undressed to his shorts would be very important.
With the focus on cardiac deaths in sports, some colleges are acquiring defibrillators and insisting on their coaches having CPR training. Some also are insisting their athletes have an EKG and ultrasound screening. Certainly as a parent I would want to talk with my son's doctor before he starts playing on a varsity team. One sudden death is one too many. The article quotes a Dr. Kimberly Harmon, who stated in an article in the journal Circulation that the "risk over a typical four-year career of a Division I male basketball player was 1 in 1,300 higher than the risk of dying in an automobile accident." Because college sports are such a lucrative enterprise, I think the administrators should do everything possible to protect their athletes and if not parents need to speak up.