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Was Daniel Jarque's death in vain?
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-08-17 07:47:23
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It is only days since I last time wrote about football and football it is again. While I was thinking of writing something about the new European Champions’ League that just started, a death turned everything around. A 26-year-old man died after suffering a heart attack following a training session. The Spanish team, Espanyol’s captain, Daniel Jarque, was a promising footballer and among the most popular Spanish athletes. He died in Coverciano, Italy, where his team was on a pre-season camp. Sadly, his death comes two years after Antonio Puerta of Sevilla died from the same cause, collapsing during a game in the Spanish league.

Heart is a viperfish instrument of the human body, I know from personal experience, and it hits you when and where you least expect it. But I’m afraid this is not an excuse for a sports club with international ambitions and an expert staff to support it happening. Just like there are warning signs before a heart failure, I’m afraid this is another warning for the sports clubs, especially for the football clubs. Something is wrong, something needs fixing and it has to happen soon, because it is costing human lives, young human lives. 26 years old is very young!

As I wrote a few weeks ago in another article, the pressure of money and fame for all these thousands of young people is huge, and only some dozens of them get there. Not all of them become Christian Ronaldo in the end. The danger and pressure is tremendous, and the result once more has a name. Daniel Jarque is not alone in this parade of names, only months ago a young boy, barely a teenager, took his last breath in a field in South America (how sad, I don’t even remember his name) and then another and another and another. There are even more, we just never hear about them, but perhaps now is a good chance to remember and put them all under Daniel Jarque’s name.

The death of the athlete should raise a series of questions; how can a young man, who supposedly lives a careful life under constant observation of experts, die like this? The bad thing is that usually this kind of question raise suspicions, and we must admit that there are three sports where health questions are a taboo. These sports are football, basketball and Formula 1 racing. After the outcome of her doping scandal, Marion Jones was totally destroyed, socially and financially. She lost all her Olympic medals and was dealt with as a pariah. On the same time Maradona, despite using cocaine during the world cup series, was dealt with as an eccentric. He was embraced by world leaders, he got a television show to make more money and now he is the coach of the Argentinean national team!

As I said, these people are under constant observation. After having spent millions of euros on them, to the companies that fund the clubs these young men are an investment that should be taken well care of. So what did the doctors miss? During the training period before a season starts, most players go through constant medical exams; how did this happened? A few weeks ago I was watching a football game; it was a friendly game and part of the preparation of a team for their national league games. At one point one of the players got problems with his heart and the doctors went over to him, one of them gave him something to swallow. After that, the player got up and continued playing for another fifty minutes, like nothing had happened. Perhaps it was nothing serious, but it was definitely something that helped him. So how many of these ‘something’ do athletes take in order to cope with the physical and psychological pressure? I mentioned Marion Jones before, but football players are not an exception, however football has never been under serious investigation and that’s because of the money!

The money in football, basketball and Formula 1 is huge. The sums are unbelievable, even mythical to average people. Lately Schumacher was somehow …forced to return to racing, and his salary is going to be one and a half million euro for every single race! This is money that for the majority of people a life time of hard work won’t be enough to make. I’m not going to say anything more about the amount of money he’ll be making - if he’s worth it, well, then good for him. But what I’m trying to say is that this man should have gone through an extreme detailed medical and psychological examination before getting in the car. The same applies to all athletes in every sport, and of course they need to make plans for how they are going to help him to cope with all the psychological and physical pressure.

Let’s hope that Daniel Jarque’s death was not in vain. Let’s hope that it will wake up the right people, who will start checking up on what’s going on beyond the taboos and financial interests that kill young people.

P.S. Apparently Michael Schumacher is NOT going to race because he didn't pass the medical ...exams! 


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