Law Is Not Magic
Here is a tragic story about a young football player who suffered a heart attack after scoring a touchdown. Thankfully, the young man lived, and now his father is determined to save all other high school athletes from similar risks:
The incident has also spurred activism from Demison’s father, who has used his son’s incident to call for mandatory heart screening of all high school athletes, according to KATU-TV. Hayward Demison II said that he hoped to work with the parents of David Heller, a former Central Catholic athlete who died in his sleep five years ago following a basketball game. He was later diagnosed with an enlarged heart.
Thanks to a foundation set up by Heller’s parents, more than 300 student athletes had heart screenings last May, but Demison II said that even more should be done.
“I want this a law, and I won’t stop,” Hayward Demison II told KATU-TV. “I’m going to push it that no other family — starting in Oregon and across the United States — has to go through it.
That’s a noble sentiment, and it might help a few young people with rare, undiagnosed heart problems, but let’s examine some of the potential costs. It would be nice, no doubt, if we all had perfect information about the goings-on of our vital systems, but most diagnostic tests are not inexpensive. Someone will have to pay for these tests, most likely either the school or the families with students who want to play sports. Unfortunately, if you substantially raise the costs of a sport for families, some marginally fewer number of students will participate, and if the schools foot the bill, they will be more inclined to cut sports programs. Either of those events would likely lead to less overall physical activity among high school students, which may contribute to obesity, which, in turn, can cause numerous health problems like heart disease.
Mandated heart screenings for all high school athletes would certainly help diagnose a few very rare health issues, but it would also raise costs immensely, which could contribute to other, more common, health problems. People frequently advocate a law as an easy fix, but the law cannot make these costs disappear. We ignore that fact at our own peril.