free-health-checks_1374419cYou take a deep breath while the doctor holds a stethoscope to your chest. Everything sounds fine, so you go on with your physical, and you are cleared to play.

Student Athletes have to get a physical done by a licensed doctor, and pass it in order to play college sports. Is this physical really enough evidence that there is nothing going on wrong in a student-athlete’s body?

Tennessee State University’s football program experienced a tragic loss Nov. 8 when William Wayne Jones III, defensive back, collapsed suddenly while practicing at 4 p.m. By 5:50 p.m. he was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital.

The head coach said he didn’t know of any pre-existing health conditions, and although cause of death hasn’t been ruled yet, his death is being treated as a cardiac health defect.

In May 2011, Wes Leonard, 16-year-old high school basketball player, died after he made the game-winning shot in his game. The doctors ruled his death due to an enlarged heart, doctors call cardiomyopathy. Doctors say enlarged hearts often go unnoticed but can be deadly.

I understand, as a coach, if your athlete isn’t complaining of pain, normally you wouldn’t think anything is wrong, but that may not always be the case.

If there was some kind of more in-depth health screening for athletes, maybe some of these enlarged heart cases could be caught before it’s too late.

I know health screenings can get costly for schools, but is it not worth it if it can potentially save lives?

-Emma Fradette

ekfradette@txwes.edu