ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY SHAWN BEDIAKO
Recently, the NCAA implemented a policy requiring all incoming Division I student-athletes to be screened for sickle cell trait, show proof or prior screening, or decline to be screened by signing a release waiver. The policy is being implemented as part of a settlement between the NCAA and the family of Dale Lloyd II, a Rice University football player who died in 2006 after collapsing during a conditioning workout.
The NCAA’s policy on sickle cell trait has raised a great debate between those who feel it protects student-athletes and those who feel that it might lead to them being stigmatized or discriminated against.
As a social psychologist, I started the Laboratory for the Social and Psychological study of sickle cell disease at UMBC in 2005. We conduct research on a range of issues, including social attitudes and perceptions about the condition. I think that those arguing for and against the NCAA’s sickle cell policy are missing two important points, and that this debate creates a unique opportunity for public discourse about sickle cell trait.