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NCAA finally recommends sickle cell trait testing

Posted on: June 29, 2009 11:45 am
Edited on: June 29, 2009 11:51 am
The NCAA doesn't often back down when it comes to court challenges. Like any large corporation, it is lawyered to the gills, and will often fight to the death in the courtroom even when it knows it is wrong. 

But it isn't Teflon. In fact, the NCAA's ability to exist was upheld by a narrow 5-4 vote of the Supreme Court in 1988. There have been devastating losses as well. In the infamous restricted-earnings case, the NCAA paid $54.5 million in damages after it tried to limit the salary of entry-level coaches. Last year, the NCAA settled an anti-trust class action suit for $10 million. The suit sought the full cost of attendance for scholarship athletes.

So when the NCAA settled with the family of Dale Lloyd on Sunday night it was a watershed moment. Lloyd was the former Rice player who died in 2006 due to complications from sickle cell trait. For more than three decades the NCAA's own medical handbook has stopped short of recommending of testing for the trait. As part of the settlement, the NCAA will now recommend testing.

Rice University, Lloyd's college, will lead an NCAA charge to make testing mandatory.

If I was able to help, I take some small amount of pride in moving the issue along. In May I reported that sickle cell trait had become the leading killer of Division I-A athletes this decade. What made it additionally ridiculous was that none of the deaths had occured in actual competition.

You wonder what took the NCAA so long. The association has formally acknowledged sickle cell trait deaths since 1994. Almost half of those deaths (seven out of 15) have occured this decade. Lloyd's case was one of three high-profile suits brought by the families of deceased players since 2006.

It took the Lloyd family naming the NCAA in its lawsuit to get some movement on the issue. That's when the NCAA finally relented. Experts say the association was concerned all these years about legalities (aka, being politically correct about singling out African-Americans) if it recommended testing. Meanwhile, players continued to die. recently talked to former Oklahoma All-American Curtis Lofton about the issue. Lofton tested positive for the condition at OU. With proper training techniques, he was able to play with sickle cell trait. He went on to become the Big 12 defensive player of the year in 2007 and made the NFL all-rookie team with Atlanta in 2008. How did you find out you had sickle cell trait?

Lofton: "In grade school, I'd be in shape but I'd get tired. I'd ask myself, 'Why am I getting tired and everyone else keeps going?' So I took the test (at Oklahoma) and that's the first time I ever heard about sickle cell."

Q: Did it phase you?

Lofton: It didn't phase me because during the game you're not going constant. There are breaks here and there. The only time mine kicks in is when I'm going constant.

Q: Did teams downgrade you in the draft because you had the condition?

Lofton: I think some teams may have done that. When I was going through the combine, people didn't really know what sickle cell trait was. Everybody looks at it like a negative. It really doesn't come into effect when you're in a game. I had to explain to a lot of teams what it was.

Q: Was it troubling that you had to explain to them?

Lofton: Coaches didn't know what it was, so I really didn't have a problem breaking it down for them.

Q: Have you kept track of all the deaths this decade?

Lofton: I think sickle cell is the leading cause for collegiate deaths.

Q: This decade, it is.

A: The number one thing that I hope to get out of this thing is bringing awareness to others and hopefully being able to save some lives.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Oklahoma, Rice

Since: Jul 20, 2009
Posted on: July 20, 2009 7:27 pm

NCAA finally recommends sickle cell trait testing

Are you kidding?  Do you know every DNA cell that lives in your body??? Most people who have the sickle cell "trait" don't even know it.  The trait does not have any "outward" symptoms.  Only when "stressors" to the body are introduced will people see problems.  Heat, HARD WORKOUTS, not enough fluids, and lack of sleep are all stressors.

  Learn some things.

Since: Jul 20, 2009
Posted on: July 20, 2009 7:20 pm

NCAA finally recommends sickle cell trait testing

Thanks Dennis for reporting on this important Sickle Cell testing.

I have sickle cell disease (not trait) and I know the importance of knowing if you have the trait (or not).  This testing is so important, considering what football players do in the hottest months of the year.

The stress of their workouts AND the heat will (and do) in fact kill.Embarassed

See my blog where I write about living with Sickle Cell. 

Ps. God bless the memory of Dale Lloyd, his life will have a lasting impact on football players everywhere.

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: June 29, 2009 3:28 pm

NCAA finally recommends sickle cell trait testing

>>If I was able to help, I take some small amount of pride in moving the issue along. In May . What made it additionally ridiculous was that none of the deaths had occured in actual competition.

What makes it really ridiculous is that the individuals involved, who must have known that they were susceptible to sickle cell, didn't bother to get their own selves tested to make sure they didn't have the disease! Why not take a little responsibilty themselves, since after the *first* death occurred, or even the second, or the third, *they* should have figured out that it was up to them toget their children tested.

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