The Moral Hazards

The drug Naloxone revolutionized treatment of opioid drug overdoses, but had an unexpected sociological consequence: it’s availability actually led to an increase in drug abuse – a consequence of moral hazard.

When a protective measure is put in place to temporarily mitigate the effects of a hazardous behavior, it can actually result in worsening in that behavior. For indoor volleyball, the popular mandating of kneepads could result in young athletes choosing to take impact directly on their knees as a habit since they can grow accustomed to the padding. This is fortunately not the situation on the beach but we are not bereft of other concerning practices.

Of note are the prevalent dosing with over the counter nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (I’ve heard it referred to as “Vitamin I”). Rather than addressing the underlying movement behaviors (or outright injuries) athletes are expected to dull the pain to keep playing. The drug simply serves to worsen the habit. Though in itself a useful tool in the right circumstance, using it in this manner affects the long term health and performance of the athlete. And even more nefarious than that is the exploitation of placebo in kinesiotaping. The practice is straight up snake oil and unscrupulous companies are profiting on the injuries of athletes.

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  1. April 15, 2019

    […] these exercises may actually function as a moral hazard – perpetuating injurious behavior in the guise of being protective. It addresses the pain, […]

  2. April 16, 2019

    […] To accomplish maximum vertical extension, volleyball players are taught to jump straight up – which means they land pretty much with near instantaneous impact time, and maximum force. Moreover, current net play strategies provide no room for horizontal travel when landing. The accumulated volume of this practice figures into the etiology of PFP – no amount of padding or taping or bracing changes the physics. If anything, due to the cumulative nature of damage, these practices may aggravate the situation through the creation of moral hazards. […]

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