Sports! Many of us participated in sports, of varying degrees, as youngsters. This may come as a surprise, but growing up in Texas as a boy, it’s nearly a requirement to play football. We’d put the helmet and pads on like we were pros and try to emulate many of yesteryear’s greats on the gridiron. While football is still one of the most popular extracurriculars, it’s hard to deny the popularity of global sports in golf, basketball and Mixed Martial Arts, among others.
When it comes to athletics, we all recognize that injuries are ultimately inevitable. For professional athletes, whether in-season, off-season, or post-career, dealing with residual aches and pains is commonplace and becomes second nature. Most professional athletes will admit that they will take any measure to stay on the field; availability is their number one priority. As a result, for some current and former athletes, turning to addictive opioid painkillers and other unhealthy substances has not been uncommon. The number of present and former athletes who have become addicted to these substances is equal parts staggering and heartbreaking. Fortunately, as the science and benefits of CBD become more understood, many of them are turning natural cannabinoids due to the numerous therapeutic benefits (many of the CBD benefits can be found in previous Field of Gold blog posts). Professional sports associations, both domestically and internationally, have addressed the topic of allowing their athletes to reap the benefits of CBD and are opening the door to this alternative form of healing.
In 2018, the World Anti-Doping Agency eliminated CBD from its Prohibited List, permitting its use by Olympic athletes and PGA Tour players. Immediately, numerous professional golfers began using CBD. Two-time Masters Tournament winner and CBD advocate Bubba Watson tells TheStreet, “The inflammation in my body, waking up with better sleep…For me, it was all about sleep and trying to get the body right.” In addition, professional mixed martial artists are also turning to CBD to help with relief. Longtime UFC fighter Nate Diaz claims, “It helps with the healing and inflammation process. So it’s best to use it before and after the fights and the training because it improves your life.” Professional tennis also allows for CBD use, with U.S. pro and winner of 12 ATP titles, John Isner signing an endorsement deal with a CBD company in 2019.
The NHL has a very progressive stance, not including CBD and other cannabinoids on its list of banned substances. Last month, Major League Baseball removed CBD and other natural cannabinoids from its Drugs of Abuse List. Many praised this decision due to the increasing use of opioids among players. Speaking on this decision, former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski mentions, “With the MLB lifting its ban, it’s just a fantastic start, and it would be wonderful to see like NFL and other major sports organizations to start following the lead of the MLB and lifting up that ban.” As we stand, the NFL still prohibits the use of CBD, but they are looking into possible changes in the near future. Hall of Famer and 2x Super Bowl Champion, Terrell Davis tells Bleacher Report, “I believe CBD would have extended by career…because any time you can help your body heal, you can take out the swelling, the inflammation and you can do it in a way that’s natural. I feel like absolutely it would have assisted in that.” Coincidentally, 71% of retired NFL players admitted to abusing painkillers during their playing careers. Moreover, the rate of opioid addiction among former players is 3x higher than the general public. The NFL needs to take note of the natural healing properties associated with CBD and allow its use among current players. Similar to the NFL, the NBA does not allow the use of CBD. Paul Pierce and Al Harrington are a growing list of former players who have endorsed its use.
As good fortune for our respected athletes, momentum is gaining in proponents of removing CBD from the banned substances list. Athletes are recognizing the therapeutic benefits and are using their platform to advocate changes in their leagues. The future of CBD use in professional sports looking promising. Although leagues such as the NBA and NFL have outdated stances, the support for change is evident.