Playing Sports With Diabetes



This is an exciting time of the year in my household. Playoff season always draws high energy, especially when two of your home teams ( Bruins & Celtics) are still in the running. Being a professional athlete takes a tremendous amount of dedication, focus, and tenacity to compete at that level. Do you ever stop and think for a moment about the professional athletes that live with diabetes? I often do, because I live in a house with my 4 boys and my husband, and sports are a permanent fixture on the TV. Furthermore, my son David is heavily involved in sports lives with type 1. These athletes take on a whole other “to-do” list (both mentally and physically). Playing sports with diabetes has its own set of challenges.

The list of professional athletes living with diabetes is surprisingly quite substantial. Jay Cutler (NFL), Max Domi (NHL), Chris Dudley (NBA) are just a few who make the list. Not that anyone would volunteer to be on the list, it is encouraging to see that living with diabetes does not necessarily restrict a young child’s dream of becoming a professional athlete.

(For a full list of Professional athletes with diabetes: of sportspeople with diabetes )

Statistics tell us becoming a professional athlete is a small percentage. In contrast, statistics show us that sports is one of our favorite pastimes. So what are some things to consider when playing sports while living with diabetes? Clearly, this is a broad question, and more clearly, I am not a doctor. Therefore, always consult a doctor prior to engaging in any physical activities. However, let’s go over some suggestions for playing sports with diabetes.

Suggestions For Playing Sports with Diabetes:

  1. Always Test. It is critical to know where your blood sugar levels are before, during, and after a game. Make sure you are familiar with the right amount of insulin needed for an ideal performance to prevent Hypoglycemia (lows) or Hyperglycemia (highs).
  2. Smart Eating. Choosing the right food before a game will give you the necessary energy and allow you to manage your numbers better.
  3. Communication. I am a huge advocate of communication on all levels. Especially when you’re playing sports with diabetes, it is essential your coach and teammates are aware of your situation. This will help ensure you have what you need on the bench, sidelines, etc.. If an unforeseen event occurs, you can feel comfortable knowing you will be treated properly.
  4. Hydrate. Due to the nature of the condition, diabetics are more susceptible to suffering from dehydration and its debilitating effects.
  5. Be Mindful. Always listen to your body. Put your health and well being before the game. If your body is telling your something is off, correct it!

Sports bring us joy, togetherness, and numerous life lessons. Life would seem rather boring without the excitement of the highs and lows (no pun intended) of the sport of your choice. Furthermore, seeing individuals overcoming the obstacles of living with a chronic disease is one of the greatest highs of all. To all those out there in the diabetic community that do not let diabetes stand in your way…Hats off to you!


I’ve learned many lessons along the path to helping my son live his best life with diabetes and would love to share my experiences with your group or organization. Please reach out if you are searching for a speaker for your next event.

Liz Sacco—Founder of Dabs