Highly stressful jobs, with rewards for only defeating your opponents at all times, where winners take all, with high praises for delivering without excuses, lead to high blood pressure… and the game of soccer, especially for the coach who is as good as his last victory or trophy, exemplifies this scenario.
Most coaches, who are only adulated when they win and thoroughly disgraced when they lose, are walking hypertension patients.
Studies linking highly stressful occupations and hypertension date back decades. In fact, during work hours, for most occupations, blood pressure are higher. It was even established that blood pressure are higher during the week than when people are not at work. Again, in the evening or when you have closed from work, blood pressure are lower.
Jobs where you are not really in control, where you depend on 11 players on the pitch to do you proud and save your career, come with huge stress. The performance of your players poses a risk on your wellbeing, because losing is largely blamed on the coach, and success shared by all.
Job strain model, developed by Robert Karasek and Tores Theorell, studied occupational stress. It measured job demands and job control. A highly stressful job is described as one with huge demands and low control. And coaching is one such occupation. And people engaged in high strain jobs, from studies conducted in Sweden, the United Kingdom and United States of America, are prone to coronary heart disease which escalates because of high blood pressure.
In one study, it was discovered that staying in a high strain job for over three years increased the danger of more complications from hypertension.
For a coach like Stephen Keshi, who started out as a player, and later captain, with huge responsibilities on his shoulders, he was exposed to developing high blood pressure at a younger age. He had to worry about playing soccer as long as necessary to save enough money for when he retired.
And luckily for him, he played in African and European clubs as well as the national team, the Super Eagles. He was even luckier to coach Togolese and Nigerian national teams. But all the time, he was expected to win. And when he failed to deliver, he was rudely sacked and thoroughly disgraced. So, his hypertension had no chance of being properly managed.
And his death in the early morning of Wednesday, June 8, at 54, in Benin city, Edo, from complications of hypertension and heart break occasioned by cardiac arrest, was largely inevitable.