The common affliction known as ‘white line fever’ has plagued professional sports for decades, but a new study has delivered some startling results that may have wide-ranging repercussions for athletes.
A University of Western Australia study has found that white line fever is in fact not a fever at all, nor is it any sort of identifiable medical condition. The study, authored by clinical academic neurologist Dr. Peter Dickson, analysed a variety of sports, including cricketers, various footballers, netballers and tennis players. It found that white line fever was a myth and that players suffering from it were more than likely just “selfish bastards.”
Dickson said he was “absolutely gobsmacked” by the findings. “Across the board, we found no evidence that white line fever had any physical impact upon the players complaining of it, or that it even existed,” he said. “We did however notice that these players were far more likely to behave in an unsportsmanlike manner on the field.”
Almost since the beginning of sport itself, players at all levels have used white line fever as an excuse for poor conduct. Sports psychologist Dr. John F. Murray told ThePublicApology that the results of the study would change the mindset of athletes.
“I have done a lot of work with players looking to control their white line fever as it often leads to bad behaviour,” he said. “Now we find out that it doesn’t really exist. I guess now there is no excuse for them – if they behave like a dickhead it’s not because of white line fever, it’s just because they are a dickhead. This is something that they will have to come to terms with.”
The University of Western Australia has since received funding for another study to be completed later this year, this time looking at the physical effects of a ‘brain explosion’ – another frequently quoted cause of stupid, violent, poor or unsportsmanlike play. Dickson told ThePublicApology that the results of this study could be just as surprising.
“Although it is too early to make any categorical statements, we have begun scanning the brains of players shortly after they have suffered a brain explosion, and so far we haven’t identified a single case where the brain had actually exploded,” he said.
“What I have noticed is that players who complain frequently of brain explosions tend to have lower levels of brain activity than others. I’m not sure yet whether this is related.”
Dickson said the imminent study would also look at brain fades and brain snaps. He hinted that former Sydney Swan Barry Hall’s king-hit on West Coast’s Brent Staker in 2008 would be used as a case study. Following intense media attention, Hall famously sought help from a psychiatrist after the incident to try and find out why he punched Staker for no reason.
Meanwhile, ThePublicApology spoke very briefly with NSW State of Origin forward Greg Bird, who is a frequent sufferer of both white line fever and brain explosions.
Bird had this to say about the findings: “Shit.”
By Hugh Holden