Former Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods was stricken by the sudden death of his teenage son this week, when he collapsed and died of an asthma attack. Elbert Jovante Woods, a 16-year old football player, died Saturday night at a hospital in Cincinnati.
Elbert was set to start at cornerback for the varsity football team at his high school this season. He collapsed after practice on Wednesday, and was taken to the hospital. His brain went 30 minutes without oxygen before he died.
Ickey Woods was a star for the Bengals during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was known for the "Ickey Shuffle," a dance he would do to celebrate touchdowns.
The Athletic Director of the Princeton School District, Greg Kaufman, had this to say: "As I left the hospital, Jovante's mom and dad both said that 'God has a plan.' They are both pillars of strength for their family and friends. The Woods family is sincerely grateful for the love, support and prayers that everyone has shown them during Jovante's battle."
The death of Elbert Jovante Woods makes me wonder just how safe our young men and women are when playing high school sports. I can remember competing in track and field, where it was common for athletes to vomit after practice, become short of breath and even work out to the point of nearly collapsing. Most of us defined this stress to simply be a part of getting into shape, but I've always wondered whether most coaches are equipped to know when a hard workout has become a health hazard.
How do we know the difference between a kid who's simply whining about a tough practice vs. one who is actually experiencing serious physical problems? I honestly don't know the answer to this question, but it is certainly something to think about.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and the Athlete Liberation and Academic Reform Movement (ALARM). To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.