Cousins has made a full recovery and wants to play on, despite his recent overdose scare. The stimulant/sedative mix along with the quantity of the drugs has started a raging debate on the position of legally available drugs in the sport. Ã´It is not just the medication you take, it is how much of it, and it has been a big wake-up call for me.Ã¶ Cousins said on being released from hospital.
But why take legal drugs? The list of reasons are large. Some include:
Performance enhancement. Several AFL players admitted this week that they use legally available drugs to boost performance. The players and clubs are after every advantage they can to win each game. This means some may turn to legally available drugs to get that extra performance advantage.
A good performance has multiple benefits for a player. Such a performance is worth more sponsorship dollars, better contracts and more praise from the club and us, the public. We sing praises when a player has a great game, but do we give support or notice the player who is struggling or injured?
Peer pressure is another reason athletes take these drugs. If players or clubs endorse their use, then the research suggests more players will be willing to try them.
But do they work?
The answer is surprising. Legal drugs, such as the stimulant caffeine, are supposed to boost endurance and keep the player going over the four quarters of football. However, if they are mixed with other medications or if the player is dehydrated, then performance will actually be decreased. The reported benefits of caffeine in the AFL game have been questioned because stimulants negatively impact fine motor movements. So a player trying to handle the football or make a precision kick could find their movements not as steady. Players talk about losing the Ã´feelÃ¶ for the ball when influenced by stimulants.
For some athletes, legally available pain killers are the drug of choice. These help to cover up any injuries and get them on the field. Again, the possible benefits are shadowed by the threat of intestinal bleeding and the aggravation of long-term injuries.
Player safety - While the debate rages, the one question often lost in the situation is what can be done about it? The first point is the safety of the players. Medical staff and sport scientists take this area seriously and know the players' long-term health is a priority.
Education for Players at all levels are being educated as to the negative impact of such legal drugs in sport and other ways to gain an advantage (e.g. nutrition, recovery techniques).
Concern for the players for All parties, including the public, need to see the athlete as more than a physical being. They are physical, emotional and spiritual beings who need care and encouragement, not to be just noticed when they have a great game. They are to be valued more than a goal or tackle. And they are to be developed as more than physical beings. A holistic approach is needed.
Well-Being Australia theologian points to the importance of a holistic approach to sport and life. As a boy, Jesus is described as growing in this way. The Bible's book of Luke (ch 2:52) says Jesus, as a boy, grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men. That is, Jesus grew in the fear of God and applied knowledge of the Bible. He grew stronger physically. He grew in His relationship with God and people. This is an example of a holistic view of life and inspires us to consider how we are growing. No drugs needed are needed for this.