Jan 29, 2015
Weighing In On the Pros

Charles Bush-Joseph, MD, Head Team Physician for the Chicago White Sox, member of the medical advisory board for the MLB, and Associate Team Physician for the Chicago Bulls, has some interesting medical opinions about the recent labor agreement developments with the MLB and the NBA.
Bush-Joseph, managing partner and sports medicine physician for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, Chicago, is relieved that NBA players and owners have reached a tentative agreement, which means the lockout could quickly come to an end. However, he is concerned about injuries on the court this season.

“I hope that players will be coming to camp in the best possible shape to prepare for the rigors of the abbreviated training camp. “Players are jumping in to a short season with higher expectations from fans. Without the normal preseason, the injury count could be higher than usual,” he says.

About the contract agreement for the MLB, Bush-Joseph, who is also president of the MLB Team Physician Association for 2012, was encouraged that the players union accepted mandatory blood testing and required the players to participate in public service announcements about chewing tobacco. In addition, they are not allowed to chew during pre- and post-game interviews and the union has agreed to a Tobacco Cessation Center, which will offer players training on how to kick the habit.

However, Bush-Joseph firmly believes that more restrictions are necessary under the new baseball labor agreement.

“The new contract doesn’t ban players from chewing during games, which is unfortunate since millions of children watching TV will continue to see their role models chewing smokeless tobacco,” admits Bush-Joseph. “The outright ban on chewing tobacco has been in place for several years on the Minor League level as the players union negotiates only for Major League Players.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says smokeless tobacco can cause cancer, oral health problems and nicotine addiction. A recent study by the CDC found that in 2009, 15 percent of high school boys used smokeless tobacco. That’s more than a one-third increase since 2003.

Bush-Joseph says the reason for this increase is that easily influenced teenage boys continue to see players chewing tobacco on national TV.

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