I've just spent the last 50 mins reading the latest May-Aug CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), update. It is 107 pages of uplifting inspiration merged with 107 pages of desolate grief. The grief far out weighs the inspiration. I've written about CRY before; so have many others. Although great strides are being made to reduce the number of early deaths from sudden heart death among young people in this country they are, in the scheme of things, baby steps. One death is too many.
We lose, very roughly, twelve young people a week in the UK from undiagnosed heart disorders, mostly but not always, when playing or participating in sport. Most of these individual tragedies are avoidable by simple screening. We don't though, mandate heart screening as a matter of course for our children in the UK and the death toll rises as an inevitable consequence. So, let me put this in plain and simple language that even the most stupid politician can understand.
If a rabid extremist walked out tomorrow morning and wasted 12 youngsters HM Government would immediately make it clear that 'no stone would be left unturned, no expense spared, no hiding place...... yada, yada.' Yet we'll lose more than that number before Christmas Day with kids clocking out because their ticker gives up the ghost with no warning. Because though, it happens in isolated incidents, up and down the land, there is no collective outrage, no front page news, no anger and frustration on Question Time and the rest of the media to force action. Every child in Italy is screened, why not here? To be screened in the UK a child has to meet one of the following criteria, they must be
a. At a school with an alert medical centre, sports department or enlightened headmaster who offers screening
b. Have parents who are aware of SADS and who are in a position to do something about screening
c. Lose a friend, colleague or neighbour in a tragic episode and take action
d. Be dead and the screening comes in the form of an autopsy.
Am I alone in hearing the nonsense alarm going clang-a-lang-a-lang? British sport is crammed full of self righteous self interest. From SKY Sports to the BBC, the Sports Minister, the FA, the RFU, Lords, Lord Coe; the whole shagging lot who are responsible for collective sporting failure on a quite epic scale. We have held two monumental sporting events in the UK in recent years and these people talk and bluster about 'legacy.' How about taking responsibility and doing something good in ensuring that no child who steps foot on a sports ground is at risk from sudden death. That would be a simple, achievable and laudable legacy. It's not mouth guards and shin pads parents need to be worrying about on the sports field, its being dressed in black and working out orders of service because the sporting establishment and those in the government charged with health, sport and education cannot, or will not, get their collective act together. Shame on them. Angry? Bloody right I am.
Of course, some individual sportsmen and members of the sporting establishment are great supporters of the campaign for screening. Among them Nick Easter, Sir Steve Redgrave, Gregor Townsend, Rio Ferdinand and John Inverdale, who experienced at first hand a tragedy when playing. It's not enough though, it just is not enough. I think its time to get angry and to communicate the frustration in the utter madness of doing nothing. It's not much, but I'll be writing to two Members of Parliament a week from here on in and conjuring up whatever other means might be at my disposal to cajole, embarrass and pressure those in positions of authority and responsibility to do the right thing.
We had a saying in the Army, 'JFDI.' 'Just Fucking Do It,' Mr Cameron, just do it.