The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

December 8, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: There are no sick days for athletes

MORGANTOWN — So you wake up on a Monday morning and it’s cold outside; a couple of inches of snow have fallen. That’s bad enough, but then as you roll out of bed and put your feet on the cold floor, you realize you head is aching and your back hurts and you’ve got the sniffles and then …


A cold? The flu? Those blankets were awfully warm and you really don’t feel well enough to go to work, so back to bed you go.

Fine. But what if you’re an athlete? What if there’s a practice that day, or worse yet, a game? What if 15,000 fans and your teammates are counting on you, be you a backup or a superstar on a college team or a professional team?

How is that handled?

We decided we’d check with Randy Meador, the men’s basketball trainer at West Virginia University and coordinator of athletic training at the school.

Meador has served 28 seasons as West Virginia’s head basketball athletic trainer, so he has an idea of what he’s doing.

When most people think of team trainers, they think of sprains and breaks and muscle pulls, but their job goes further than that when it comes to illness and keeping players healthy.

“We are educated. We deal with a lot of things. You have to be able to recognize MRSA, appendicitis, mononucleosis. There’s several things that affect their performance or whether they are able to compete or perform,” he said.

“We have general medical education. It’s not like medical school, but we have to recognize the difference between stomach cramps and appendicitis, the difference between a cut, a spider bite and MRSA. We’ve had mononucleosis … you can’t have an enlarged spleen and do a contact sport.”

If they do recognize any of these types of problems, they refer them to Dr. Michael Lively, the team doctor.

But what of the player that comes in with aches and pains, a fever, a headache?

It happens a lot.

“My goodness,” Meador says, “You’ve got 30,000 students on campus. You are going to get sick.”

And it isn’t just that.

“Weather change,” Meador said. “We went from Cancun to Morgantown last week, to 20 degrees and a low wind-chill factor. It takes a toll on the body.”

They are ready for most of it.

“I have a good supply of over-the-counter medication, just like any mom or dad. I have a good supply of Tylenol and antihistamines, allergy medication, etc., etc.,” he said.

In truth, in many ways, Meador is like a mom and dad, in more ways than you can imagine.

“Some of the coaches need parenting from time to time,” he cracked, with a laugh.

What they do with something like the flu is treat with OTCs for two or three days, and if there is no improvement, refer the athlete to Dr. Lively.

“He also has a rule if they have a 101 fever or above they are out. Below that, they are able to participate. We have guidance and rules in those areas to make sure we are doing things right,” Meador said.

Meador says while he’s had athletic injuries or infections keep players from playing a game, but he couldn’t think of any with just the flu.

“I remember Jay Hewitt had appendicitis and missed a couple of games,” he said. “Dr. Lively has prescription to help if it’s like a stomach virus.”

Players want to play, though.

“Michael Jordan played in a playoff game with the flu. You know, whenever you have a hero, a coach can always use that to motivate,” he said.

And certainly Michael Jordan is a hero who played with the flu in what now has come to be known as “The Flu Game.”

This was the way it was described in Sports Illustrated once:

He remembers waking up in the middle of the night, sweating profusely, shaking, and feeling as if he was going to die. “I was scared; I didn’t know what was happening to me,” Michael Jordan would say.

At first, he thought it was a nightmare. Then he realized it was real, that he was seriously ill. “I felt partially paralyzed,” he would later say.

When he lifted himself up from his bed in his Utah hotel room, his head began spinning. He’d never been so nauseated before. He feared that somehow, some way, someone had slipped some kind of drug in something he ate.”

Jordan remained in bed for 24 hours, lost several pounds, was dehydrated, but got out of bed and played, quite badly at first as Utah took a 16-point lead over his Chicago Bulls.

But something happened in the second quarter. He scored 17 points.

“It was all about desire,” he would say. “Somehow I found the energy to stay strong.”

In the end he hit a 3-point shot to break an 85-85 tie in the final half minute and the Bulls win.

Jordan finishes, collapsed on the floor with exhaustion, but with 36 points and a victory.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

Text Only
WVU Sports
  • Bussie looks forward to WNBA

    On Tuesday, the weather turned cold, the wind blew and amongst the raindrops that fell a few snowflakes fluttered quietly to Earth.
    It was as if it was a celebration of Asya Bussie being drafted on Monday night by the Minnesota Lynx, champions of the WNBA, with the third selection of the second round, the 15th overall pick of the draft.

    April 16, 2014

  • WVU’s Harlee named Big 12 Scholar-Athlete

    The Big 12 Conference announced its Scholar-Athlete of the Year recipients for the 2014 winter sport season, and West Virginia University senior Jess Harlee earns the honor for women’s basketball.
    Harlee was selected as the award winner based on a vote of each respective sport’s head coaching group, with coaches not permitted to vote for their own student-athletes.

    April 16, 2014

  • Gyorko, Padres agree to extension

    Jedd Gyorko, who hasn’t hit much of anything with a .178 start on this season, hit the jackpot on Monday, signing a six-year contract extension with the San Diego Padres for $35 million with a one-year club option at $13 million.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Spring game showed defense has improved

    From Dana Holgorsen’s viewpoint, which was standing right behind the offense, West Virginia’s Gold-Blue Spring Game on Saturday was a rousing success for it showed very little of what the Mountaineers will be in this coming season, probably not even showcasing the man who will direct the offense in the quarterback position.

    April 15, 2014

  • WVU signs guard; Adrian arrested for DUI

    There was something good and something bad for West Virginia men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins this past weekend as Kansas junior college player Tarik Phillip committed to play for the Mountaineers but rising sophomore Nathan Adrian was charged with Under 21 DUI after he was stopped at 1:20 a.m. Sunday for an expired registration sticker.

    April 15, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN- Most plays good, some not so good in Gold-Blue scrimmage

    There appeared to be a fine mixture of plays, most good with some not so good, in last Saturday’s West Virginia University’s Gold-Blue football scrimmage.

    April 15, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN- Garrison still proving he can carry the ball

    The running back raves from the West Virginia coaching this spring have been directly mostly toward Wendell Smallwood, and rest assured he earned every one of them with his versatility, but it was a reborn running back who well may have taken the biggest jump up the depth chart.

    April 14, 2014

  • WVU baseball drops seventh straight game

    One’s athletic skills are tested on a daily basis but every so often other aspects of an athlete’s makeup are tested, often far more important aspects in the game of life.

    April 14, 2014

  • Gold-Blue Game answers few questions at quarterback

    Dana Holgorsen finds himself in a quarterback quandary.
    He’s looking to have one quarterback and has five of them as spring practice ends, and nothing about the spring session has done anything to straighten out the situation.

    April 13, 2014

  • Moore ‘back at home’ under center

    There are a couple of ways to look at what Logan Moore did this spring after being moved back to quarterback and given a chance to compete for what is a wide open job, as wide open at the end of the spring as it was coming in.
    The first is to say that he didn’t wow Dana Holgorsen to the point that he’s willing to say he’s the leader going into summer drills, but that would be shortsighted considering from where Moore came.

    April 13, 2014

Featured Ads
WVU Sports Highlights
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos