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THE LEN LESSER REPORT  

THE LEN LESSER REPORT

 

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ELITE MALE ATHLETES OFTEN PAY THE PRICE

Last week a doctor, who is a friend of the family, spoke of her pride that her son is an elite college football athlete. She seemed troubled that I was not impressed.

Yesterday March 18, the Globe and Mail featured a column, " A dangerous game" in which Chris Borland, who played for the San Francisco 49ers has announced that he has called it quits after playing just one year, citing worry about head injuries.

Chris won the rookie of the week honours twice and was the rookie of the month in November. He earned the league - minimum of $420,000 and a bonus of $154,000 in his first year of professional football.

His father, Jeff, supported Chrisís decision thankful that he would no longer have to watch his son endure the physical abuse of yet another season plagued with the threat of injuries that can have life long consequences.

Chris was unwilling to play because he was concerned that it would become a trap - he would continue risking injury in pursuit of a multi-million dollar paycheck.

Young players with many games and million dollars ahead of them are turning away from football the most popular sport in the United States.

In Canada, hockey is the sport for macho young players who chase the elusive dream of playing in the NHL like Wayne Gretsky. For parents who see their sons making a career out of hockey I advise them to download the Fifth Estate TV program cbc.ca/fifth/episodes "The Pain Game, Drugs, Doctors and Pro Sports"

The show is a shocking story of the rampant over-prescription of drugs by some team doctors in major sports. It is no secret that professional sports is big business.

The pressure put on some team doctors to quickly nurse high-priced players back to health is leading to the over-prescription of drugs and ultimately harming the athleteís health in the long run.

The doctors are supposed to have the players well-being first but that is not the reality in pro sports. The reality of sports is winning is first, because money rules: " He who pays the piper still calls the tune." The doctors who can get their players back on the ice are going to have successful lucrative careers as team doctors.

Derek Boogarad, who played for the NHL Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers was found dead in his apartment from what was described as an unintentional overdose of alcohol and the painkiller Oxycodone. He was 28.

In the months after Derekís death his father, Len Boogard, a former RCMP officer worked hard to try and find out what caused his sonís death. He made a startling discovery that Derek had received hundreds of prescriptions from team doctors that added up to thousands of tablets of powerful painkillers and other dangerous drugs that were highly addictive. The doctors are responsible to the team to put the players back on the ice asap and not for the long term health of the players.

My friend, John, asked me to answer the question: "Why do males have to show they are macho and try impress others that they are tough? From a young age our boys are taught that pleasing the fans in the stands even if causes irreparable long term health problems are worth the price of competing.

In Roman times young men who were gladiators in the Coliseum beat their adversaries to assuage the mob who cheered at the sight of the blood and gore. The crowd showed the victor the thumbs up or down sign indicating life or death of the vanquished.

Watch the crowd cheer when the young hockey athletes drop their gloves and fight at the Bush Gardens.

Sad that the fans are still part of the mob mentality who want to be entertained with no thought of the athletes long term well being.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com