Sickle Cell May Be A Hidden Danger to Young Athletes

Imagine the perspective of a high school athletic trainer the day a 14-year-old female basketball player at their school suffers from sudden cardiac arrest and dies on the court.

Her cause of death — exertional sickling, a condition that causes multiple blood clots — was something trainer, Scott Galloway had only heard of as a student years before. But he quickly made it his mission to educate others about this complicated condition of the sickle cell trait (SCT).

In the past four decades, exertional sickling has killed at least 15 football players in the United States, and in the past seven years alone, it was responsible for the deaths of nine young athletes aged 12 to 19, according to the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). This year, two young football players have died from exertional sickling, said

Galloway, a speaker at last week’s NATA’s Youth Sports Safety Crisis Summit in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve spoken to numerous groups in the last five years and I tend to be met with the same response — that they didn’t realize this was a big deal or that it had