The price paid by a dozen members of the Iowa Hawkeyes football team is a serious medical condition called rhabdomyolysis, which is a breakdown of muscle tissues that results in overloading the kidneys to the extent that they can be damaged severely. This is the same syndrome experienced by a small percentage of people who take statin drugs for control of serum cholesterol, the muscle cramps and weakness that you read about in the fine print in the information insert or hear about on the TV ad triple-tongued voice-over. But seriously, this is a bad situation. One player noted on Facebook that his urine had turned brown, which is one major symptom of rhabdo. Others started throwing up profusely. They’re all in the hospital being treated now, and they are said to be stable and recovering, but the university is pretty much stonewalling the whole thing. Coach Kirk Ferentz, who was out of town recruiting, was apprised of the situation and pledges to get to the bottom of it.
At what point does training go too far? Not long ago at UCF here in Orlando, a player named Eric Plancher died during a practice on a hot day. He was known to have the sickle cell trait. Last year, former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez came under fire for violating the NCAA maximum hours of practice per week. What’s this all about? We’re all worried about concussions on the field, but some of the stuff that goes on in practice negatively affects the health of arguably more players. Presumably, schools competing at the highest level of college ball have exercise physiologists, physiatrists, and other medical personnel adding their input about intensity of practice. However, this Turkey has to wonder just how much the coaches abide by the doc’s recommendation. Pressure to succeed on the field means lots of money, and it comes at a correspondingly high price in human toil.
You can read more about this in the Washington Post’s article (but not much more, because the university is stonewalling it).