Although sports are generally known as being the same, they can be distinguished into two distinct categories, competitive and non-competitive. Of course, every sport has some sort of competitiveness depending on the individual and the specific sport. Competitive sports are sports that require the maximum amount of profession an individual can do in order to be able to compete. In other words, it requires a great amount of physical effort (O’Donnell, 2019). These sports tend to be the most popular ones such as football, soccer, and basketball, with football and basketball being responsible for two-thirds of the sudden deaths of athletes in the United States (Cardiac Health, n.d.). People who view sports like that are typically very stressed upon it and will attempt pushing the limits of what the body can really withstand in regards to the competitiveness. Nonetheless, if practiced correctly, sports as such have various advantages, such as teaching social skills, understanding the importance of roles and respecting them, building confidence, accepting a loss, teamwork, and many more (Long, 2018).
In contrast, non-competitive sports focus more on leisure rather than competitiveness. Non-competitiveness promotes a more relaxed environment, engaging in a sport for the fun of it, as a means of destressing, having no reason to be competitive. Moreover, it teaches good skills, stimulates healthy growth in a safe environment, and encourages self-growth. A few of these sports include archery, surfing, skateboarding, cycling, and hiking (O’Donnell, 2019).
In sports, generally, the heart works in conformity with the pressure put on it. This is especially for athletes or individuals who play sports a good amount of the time. Considering the high function of the heart, pumping blood throughout our body and spreading the oxygen, it needs to constantly adapt to such changes. To elaborate, during exercise or sports it is crucial to have the oxygen delivered at a higher and faster rate than normal, demanding the heart to work faster. Eventually, after continued exercise or sports, the heart will increase in size, thickness, and muscle mass (Fiedler, 2015). It is during these times that heart abnormalities usually come to light. The heart will be able to function normally on a daily basis, however, it can not keep up with the pressure put on it, because a competitive sport can place a command on the volume and pressure of the heart (Rice, 2008). Not having the blood pumped properly or the oxygen not delivered at the fast rates necessary will cause the individual to pass out, collapse, or possibly pass away. Moreover, in the rare circumstances that these unfortunate events occur, there needs to be an immediate response to the situation. If immediate action is taken in the first couple of minutes, the chance of survival is 90%. If the proper help isn’t provided right away, the survival chance decreases by 10% every minute (Cardiac Health, n.d.). This becomes difficult considering the lack of training given to the coaches with about only 29% of them with the proper CPR and basic first aid training (Solomon, 2017).
The majority may view sports through the competitive aspect, forgetting about the possible toll it can have on an individual’s well being and health, specifically when it comes to cardiovascular diseases. It is important to balance between physical fitness to improve an individual’s health and between their actual health. The health of individuals can only be improved to a certain point when using sports to do such, rather, when taken too far, it can lead to many health complications and start to affect the body in a negative way. This can strictly fall under the competitive sports used all over the states quite often, which if not brought attention to can lead to more incidents of sudden cardiac-related deaths in sports fields.
Due to the different levels of competitiveness, it is standard to have different requirements based on which category of sport is desired. The requirements would be limited to the current optional form, usually required by schools, for non-competitive sports. This form would be sufficient because since these sports do not have a high demand for the function of the heart, underlying cardiovascular issues will not be put into play. The heart will be able to maintain the relatively normal pressure put on it. However, the answers put on the sport form should be confirmed by the health professional, not just by the individual. Also, if there are any red flags detected by the health professional, further testing must be required.
On the other hand, competitive sports should require full heart testing prior to playing sports. This would be the best way to ensure the safety and health of an individual. This requirement would be fulfilled with an electrocardiogram, otherwise referred to as an EKG. According to the American Heart Association (2015), an electrocardiogram is a test that measures the electrical activity of the heartbeat. This is done by an electric impulse moving through the heart with every beat to the heart. The reaction of the heart recorded can help cardiologists conclude the pace of heart rhythms, fast, slow, abnormal, or normal. It can also determine if any parts of the heart are functioning improperly. This test identifies many cardiovascular problems such as myocarditis, coronary artery diseases, and dilated cardiomyopathy. An EKG can also identify hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the most common cause of sudden death in young athletes, 36% (D’Silva & Papadakis, 2015). Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an exorbitant thickening of the heart muscle that can prompt an unpredictable heartbeat called ventricular fibrillation which brings about no blood being pumped from the heart.
The cost of an EKG test would typically range from $420 to $1,100 in Michigan (New Choice Health, n.d.). However, these tests are covered in some insurance plans. Some plans cover only a portion of the cost while others cover the total cost. Usually, insurance health plans cover an estimate of 80% of the total. A few hospitals give a small discount for uninsured patients such as the Washington Hospital Healthcare System (Cost Helper, n.d.). Through Medicare, for example, this test would be covered with a referral from a doctor (Medicare, n.d.). In addition to that, taking into consideration the high prices of the EKG that can get too expensive for average families, there are current services in the state of Michigan that provides this exam for student-athletes at no cost. Beaumont and Mercy Health are two of the organizations willing to test high school student-athletes at no cost. The location, date, and what the exam encompasses is specified by each organization.
Preserving one’s health is a crucial part of Islamic teachings. In Islam, the importance of preserving ones’ health and body is at constant repetition throughout the Quran, Sunnah, and Ahadith as it is an obligation put upon us. Hence, it is important to understand the importance of physical health while reminding our fellow Muslims to be cautious with their actions because health is indeed a true gift from Allah (SWT) a believer should be grateful for. Moreover, Allah (SWT) granted us our physical form as a form of trust we need to fulfill. A believer must act in accordance with that trust and avoid anything that will cause harm to the body to the best of their abilities. Sports is one of the many things proven as a beneficial way to take care of our health.
On the topic of health, the Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘There are two gifts which many men are unmindful about – good health and leisure.’ (Bukhari). The Prophet (s.a.w) also encouraged his followers to pray for maintaining good health. In one narration he said, ‘Ask Allah for forgiveness and health.’ (An Nasai). In another it was narrated that there was once a Bedouin who asked the Prophet (s.a.w), saying, ‘O Prophet of Allah (s.a.w), what supplication shall I make to Allah after I have finished doing the Salah? The Prophet (s.a.w) said, ‘Ask for good health’. Based on these, it is safe to say that maintaining good health was indeed something the prophet (SAW) kept insisting on the believers as many seem to underestimate its importance to Allah (SWT). If any individual lacks in the caring of their health and wellbeing, then that can be summarized as not appreciating the gift that Allah (SWT) is giving his believers, health. In many ways, that can be taken into different perspectives, but as believers, one of the most important ways to show gratitude to Allah (SWT) is by not allowing oneself to fall into destroying the health. This was prohibited to us in the Holy Quran ‘And do not throw yourselves into destruction.’ (2: 195, Quran). The ayah focuses on projecting the image that believers should not comply with anything that could bring them harm or destruction. Failing to do so will result in the questioning of such matters and actions done otherwise on the Day of Judgement, ‘Then on that day (the Day of Judgement) you shall be asked about the favours (of Allah).’ (102:8, Quran).
Cardiovascular testing is an essential key in preserving the health of students, athletes, and individuals who are interested in participating in a sport. It becomes obvious that these sudden deaths or health complications that occur on the field due to underlying cardiovascular complications can be prevented if the necessary precautions are taken. Most of the time these deaths occur to presumably healthy individuals. Proper screening identifies 3% to 10% of athletes at risk (Cardiac Health, n.d.). This percentage is relatively high, understanding that not all athletes are required to have heart screenings done before participating in sports. This percentage can be greatly maximized if the student is required to have completed a heart screening before being involved in any competitive sport. Every life is important and worth the extra step to protect it. Small overlooks such as these can cause families to lose their loved ones, hospitalizations, and many other unnecessary measures that can all be prevented.