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Terrorist Attacks Create Sports Medicine Ripples

Terrorist attacks in September clearly influenced the world of sports. Among the effects were the deaths of two scouts from the Los Angeles Kings, altered sports schedules, flight restrictions over football stadiums, and heightened security concerns about international sporting events such as the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City (see "Sports Venues Get Security Upgrades," below.)

What isn't so obvious is how the attacks have influenced sports medicine. One immediate effect was the cancellation of the 6th International Olympic Committee World Congress on Sport Sciences. The meeting had been slated for September 16 through 21 in Salt Lake City. A notice posted on the group's Web site stated that the event would be rescheduled.

Many high school and colleges are undoubtedly reviewing their disaster plans. However, we contacted several sources to see if team physicians are playing roles in creating, reviewing, and fine tuning the emergency response plans for sports events. Most sources said that school athletic directors or head athletic trainers are responsible for setting up disaster plans. Should team physicians be involved in crafting disaster plans? "I don't know," says James P. Nevins, MD, director of sports medicine and head team physician at Indiana University in Bloomington. "But we do have a lot to offer in terms of our knowledge of trauma and triage."

To gauge other effects, in late September we asked subscribers to the electronic mailing list of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine what they are doing differently in light of the recent world events. Below are the responses we received, reprinted with the authors' permissions.

Marc Shulman, MD, team physician, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. "We have set up counseling for our athletes before they fly. All medical equipment for football is being transported by truck, not on the team plane to avoid problems. Overall, I think that athletes are also coming in more frequently with stress issues because they feel it is now OK to talk about fears."

Matthew A. McQueen, MD, family physician, Ochsner Clinic, Metairie, Louisiana. "Some of us are reservists. I am a reservist, and I have not been called up yet. Honestly, I know no more than what is on TV. This has been a time of much reflection for me. I was interviewed by the local ABC channel yesterday in my regular job. I mentioned the hardship that may lie ahead should I have to leave and my three kids be alone with mom for a while.

Though a physician, I coach soccer 4 days a week and cover Friday night high school football. This would all be affected, of course, if I were called up by my reserve unit.

The coaching director of our soccer association told me last night that three kids from New York may be coming into the soccer program. They apparently lost their dad, and their mom is moving home to Louisiana. I told him they could gladly train with my team, even if we couldn't get them officially rostered."

Douglas B. McKeag, MD, professor and chair of family medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis. "When we became team physicians, indeed when we became physicians, we knew there would be times we could be in harm's way. Security measures affect all of us. The time spent covering events and away from our families seems longer now and more of a price to pay."

Renata Frankovich, MD, family physician, University of Ottawa Sports Medicine Centre, Ottawa. "I feel very privileged to have been part of the World University Games in Beijing in August of this year. I realize how special it was to be in an environment where teams from over 100 countries competed with each other in the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship. What a tremendous experience it was to live in an athletes' village with people from all over the world, share living quarters, sit in the same cafeteria, and ride the same bus to venues—all in harmony. It saddens me that 9 days after returning from such a positive, unifying event, we face such a stark and uncertain future."

Lisa Schnirring

Sports Venues Get Security Upgrades

Several recent media reports have detailed plans for improving security at sporting events. According to a report in Sports Illustrated (1), additional new security measures that might be used at the country's largest sports events include ID cards for season-ticket holders, stricter control of access to stadiums with regular sweeps by bomb-sniffing dogs, restricted air space during events, and a greater law-enforcement presence.

Security concerns have also been raised about the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which will be held February 8 through 24. According to the Salt Lake Tribune (2,3), the $200 million security plan that was in place before the terrorist attacks had already included a plan to prevent and respond to an aerial threat. Organizers reevaluated their plan after the attacks and proposed several enhancements, which could include a greater federal presence, a more militarized security force, and changes in crowd control and screening requirements.


  1. Dohrmann G: A new order: in the wake of the Sept 11 attacks, going to a game won't be the same. Sports Illus 2001;95(12):21-22
  2. Vigh M, Smith C: Games and threats: attacks force review of Olympic security. Salt Lake Tribune, Sept 12, 2001. Available at:
  3. Wharton T, Gorrell M: Olympics security revisited. Salt Lake Tribune, Sept 14, 2001. Available at:

Field Notes

Exercise Watchdog Debunks Ab Device, Oxygenated Water
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) is alerting consumers that a new abdominal exercise device and super oxygenated water products don't live up to manufacturers' claims. ACE released its findings in a September press release.

The AB-DOer is widely promoted on infomercials. Marketers claim that the device aerobically burns fat while flattening the stomach in just minutes per day.

Researchers from California State University at Northridge found that heart rates for subjects' AB-DOer workouts were below recommended target ranges, and the rating on the Borg perceived exertion scale was 1.8.

ACE noted that other abdominal exercises were more effective for toning abdominal muscles. They also highlighted the stomach-flattening benefits of effective weight-loss and aerobic exercise programs.

In a study of super oxygenated waters, which claim to provide greater energy and mental awareness, researchers from the University of Wisconsin recruited 12 college-age men and women to drink 16 oz of super oxygenated water or regular tap water. (Super oxygenated water costs from $1 to $2.50 per half liter.) Subjects then performed a multistage treadmill test. Researchers found that super oxygenated water had no measurable effect on subjects' resting heart rate, blood pressure, or blood lactate values. Dissolved oxygen analysis also revealed that the amount of oxygen in the water was markedly lower than advertised.