Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States occurring most often in African Americans and Hispanics.
One in 500 African Americans are born with sickle cell disease, meaning many athletes compete daily with great health risk.
A sickle cell crisis results when blood cells sickle, or take an abnormal shape.
"It's diagnosed through a blood test," says Ben Velasquez, Chair of the MSU Athletic Department. "Usually through a pre-participation examination as well as a thorough medical history."
And then it continues with an athletic training staff taking precautions.
"We need to be cautious that our athletes maintain hydration," says Velasquez. "We need to be cautious of the altitude they are participating in and conscientious of dehydration issues. We also need to make sure they are healthy. An athlete coming down with the flu and has sickle cell trait may make them prone to a sickle cell crisis."
The good news is if a crisis does occur, an athletic trainer is prepared to respond.