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Smoking Athletes: Wayne Rooney and others

Smoking Athletes
Athletes are usually the picture of health. When we see an athlete we picture a lean fit person who is very healthy. It seems though that there are some athletes out there who are heavy smokers. One would think this was almost as rare as the smoking doctor but apparently they do exist and seem to be growing in number. The problem with athletes who smoke is the fact that smoking has an adverse effect on a person’s health and it hampers their ability to run and they get out of breath quicker than non smokers. This can be a serious problem for the competitiveness of an athlete when they are faced with a very fit, healthy and non-smoking opponent.
A recent news article emerged, which highlighted the fact that members of the England football team were seen lighting up. Key members of the squad, which performed pathetically during the World Cup in South Africa, were seen puffing away. The players included Wayne Rooney, Aaron Lennon and Ashley Cole. Pictures of the trio smoking while enjoying their vacation have emerged and have posed an interesting question to the management of the team. Could cigarette smoking have been a cause for the disastrous performance at the World Cup? In the past, athletes were known to be addicted to cigarettes and many famous ones even smoked while playing. The recently deceased Alex Higgins was a prolific smoker and got throat cancer because of it. Johann Cruyff smoked 20 to 30 cigarettes a day but all this took place in the past. Now days athletes should really know better.
One of the biggest health risks with smoking is heart disease. The greatest number of smokers die because of heart disease than from anything else, primarily because smoking is very tough on a person’s heart. Smoking causes the arteries of the heart to weaken over time and the heart has to pump more blood in order to compensate for the fact. This way a lot of heavy smokers get heart attacks and die. Since this is a known fact about smoking it is very surprising that an athlete, someone who relies on their heart being in top form when they play their chosen sport, would choose to take up the harmful.
A few athletes who swim and run in marathons also smoke. These people say they have started to notice the effects of their smoking on their ability to perform during a race or a swimming competition. Although the short term effects of smoking may not be visible, the long term damage that is caused by the addiction come to the forefront in a variety of ways for athletes. As an athlete ages, they will start to notice the effects of their smoking on their bodies. Besides age related factors such as diminished physical ability, the effects of smoking amplify the age related issues and an athlete who smokes becomes inactive much quicker than a non-smoking one. In time these smoking athletes will realise that those years of putting harmful and poisonous chemicals into their bodies has been doing severe damage to their insides.
Coming back to Wayne Rooney, it is interesting to note that throughout England’s pathetic campaign in South Africa, he seemed a lot slower and less fit than some of the players on other teams. He is only 24-years old and he seemed to be running slower than other players and lagged behind many of them. It is a sad sight to see a top striker in the world slowing down because of a cigarette addiction. Even quitting now would have a dramatic improvement on his fitness levels and he may start to gain some of his lost glory.
It is hard to imagine that in today’s world, in which so many harmful effects of smoking are known, athletes can be seen smoking cigarettes. It is truly mind boggling that those that are supposed to be the fittest and healthiest among us are actually far from it. Hopefully after reports of the England player’s unhealthy addiction gets to the coach’s ears he will seriously clamp down on this disgusting habit. If not then we will all see a repeat of England’s poor showing in future tournaments.


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