Wellness

Sports get a little less smoky

“He’s at the 40…the 30…the 20…the 10…Touchdown Cardinals!” “R. J. Hunter for 3! And he’s done it for a Georgia State upset over Baylor!” “The Red Sox are on their way to the World Series!”

We’ve all heard the thrilling sports announcers send chills down our spines as we anxiously await to see if our team will take the win in the final seconds of a game. Whether it be football, basketball or baseball, they are all sports that require top notch athletic abilities. Athleticism takes some effort to achieve. It’s not just about the ball handling skills or how many yards the QB can throw the ball. It’s also about the nutrition and the healthy lifestyle of the athlete.

Tobacco is one way an athlete can detriment their abilities. Going to undergrad at Florida State, free t-shirts were passed out at football games that said “Tobacco-Free Florida” on the back. It is for good reason that the NCAA has placed a ban on the usage of tobacco for any student athlete, coach or game official.

The NCAA placed a ban on tobacco in sports and professional sports are following suit. Fans, including kids, whose adoration for baseball players is through the roof, watch players chew and spit tobacco while only a few feet away. Some children may think, “If my favorite baseball player chews tobacco then it must be okay.” AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants (and former Seminole Buster Posey), is now seeing a turn away from tobacco, in any form. San Francisco works with Tobacco-Free Kids, based in Washington, D.C., which tries to get the message out for tobacco-free lifestyles. According to ABC News Sports, earlier this year, San Francisco, with the help of Mayor Ed Lee, placed a ban on all forms of smoking in any athletic arena becoming the first U.S. city to do so.

The NCAA and campaigns like Tobacco-Free Kids used science and research to support the decisions they made on tobacco use in sports. Science shows that in-shape athletes who are ready to perform at their peak need oxygen-rich blood and good vasodilation of their blood vessels. The oxygen is the “food” for the muscles and tissues. According to the Cleveland Clinic, when tobacco is introduced into the body, carbon monoxide binds to the red blood cells instead of the oxygen. No oxygen means more lactic acid production causing quicker fatigue and greater muscle soreness.

Nicotine found in tobacco constricts the blood vessels, making it more difficult for blood to travel through. This puts an added strain on the heart to work harder. In order for the heart to work harder it needs more oxygen. But there’s just one little problem: there is less oxygen because there is more carbon monoxide!

Smokeless tobacco is not any better. Sure, there’s the added benefit of not disturbing everyone with the grotesque smell, but the person using it is doing just as much harm to their own body. It contains carcinogens that can lead to oral cancer, stained teeth, gum recession, bad breath and tooth decay (according to Tobacco-Free Maine).

Other interesting facts:

  1. Tobacco-Free Maine reports that tobacco increases heart rate by three times that of a non-smoker.
  2. Young smokers have a greater amount of phlegm than those that do not smoke.
  3. Tobacco usage also decreases lung function, most likely causing shortness of breath. Imagine how that could harm the tri-athlete’s or Olympic swimmer’s performance.

~Kathryn Kaleel, Louisville ’17

Kathryn Kaleel

Katie Kaleel is currently a third-year at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry Class of 2017. Growing up in Ocean Ridge, Florida, she moved north to Tallahassee to spend her undergrad years at the Florida State University to major in Exercise Science. Her hobbies include sports, piano/guitar, country music, and boating/fishing.

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2 Comments

  1. Good to see these sports organizations are putting their foot down when it comes to tobacco products. Any sort of good feeling brought by them is definitely outweighed by all of the negative consequences – one would think that athletes, who are using their bodies as part of their livelyhood, would want to make sure to avoid it!

  2. It’s crazy to see how the sports industry has in some ways yet to make the connection between health and performance..

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