August 14, 2008
Each day, it seems, another player shows up at USC football practice with a pained expression and an uncomfortable gait, feet spread wide, stepping gingerly across the turf. They are victims of an ailment that has swept through the team during training camp, something that coaches refer to as "a skin irritation.
"The players call it "jock itch."
While dislocated kneecaps and high ankle sprains draw more attention, Coach Pete Carroll said he has never seen anything like the minor outbreak that caused key players to miss practice Wednesday. As much as 25% of the team has been affected by the apparent run of tinea cruris, kicker David Buehler estimated. The condition seems to have spread by way of new compression shorts, or tights, worn under their football pants.
Tailback Joe McKnight and receiver Travon Patterson were sufficiently afflicted to spend Wednesday's practice on the sideline.
"It burns," Patterson said.
In recent years, the team has battled more serious incidents of staph infection, employing measures such as washing uniforms in hotter water.