Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sick Locker Rooms

There's something nasty going on in the world of sports, and it has nothing to do with any of the usual suspects.

No, it's not greedy owners, obnoxious agents, or childish players that have me worried.

It's Staphylococcus aureus, and it's truly ugly. Don't believe me?

Ask any of a growing list of superstars who've been hit by staph infections: Peyton Manning, Barry Bonds, Tom Brady, Kellen Winslow. Even journeyman receiver Joe Jurevicius missed an entire season and needed numerous surgeries to tackle a persistent staph infection, and he's still not 100% right.

Most of these cases involved athletes who'd had knee surgery. That used to mean a few weeks or months of rehab. Now, it often means a scary detour into infection-world.

What's going on? Nobody really knows, and that's what's really frightening. It appears, though no one can say for sure, that these athletes either picked up the germs at their team's training facilities or at the hospital.

The NFL, after initially seeming rather blase' about all this, is now intensely interested in getting some answers. Commissioner Roger Goodell is calling in some high-powered medical experts to provide advice.

It's important to note that this isn't just a problem for bazillionaire pro jocks. There have been staph infections reported among college, high school, and health club athletes. I watched a friend struggle for well over a year with an infection in his foot. He was reduced to carving pieces out of his shoes just so he could get out for a bike ride. You don't want to go there.

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