The Real “March Madness”: Six Students Drop Dead

It started last night with Selection Sunday.  It builds this week with brackets and office pools.  It explodes this weekend with the first round of the NCAA Tournament as we march to the Final Four.  It’s a great time of year . . . as long as you are focused on college basketball and not the sudden cardiac deaths of students.

Since March 1st, the media has reported the sudden death of six students.  None of them expected to die.  Some of them were playing sports.  Two of them were playing competitive basketball.  Wes Leonard received the most press attention.  He died after making the winning shot for his team and leading the team to an undefeated season.

This is part of the real madness.  We don’t track the causes of death of our children.  A national registry would show that thousands of children die every year from sudden cardiac arrest – SIDS, drownings, car accidents and sports.  We spend billions of dollars to repair the hearts of our elders but we won’t spend millions of dollars to protect the hearts of our children.  We refuse to do heart screenings on our kids because the test is not perfect.

The real madness of March is that we’re picking our brackets and cheering on our teams while sudden cardiac arrest, the number one cause of death in young athletes, particularly in the sport of basketball, has killed at least six of our kids.  The real march madness is that our children are dying from a detectable and preventable condition.

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