Some say ignorance is bliss. For the unlucky, ignorance can be fatal.  On Sept. 7, Olivier Louis, a Wekiva High School freshman, collapsed and died during football practice.  An initial autopsy report indicated that Louis’s death had no clear cause and that he was a healthy young man who passed his physical examination.

Louis was the 29th football player nationwide to die since 2008.  There have been 31 heat-stroke deaths in high school football from 1995 to 2009, according to Frederick Mueller, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of North Carolina.

Whether or not Louis’s death was based on the heat or another cause, his death should be a wakeup call for players and coaches in Central Florida.

The Florida High School Athletic Association football manual reccomends that fall practices be no more than three hours in length and consist of no more than 90 minutes of intense exercise.  Also, it recommends that no student-athlete participate in more than six days of consecutive practice.

Here are some more rules that coaches should go by:

Rule number one: Water, Water, Water

There once was a saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink it.”  High school kids are like the horses, you can lead them to the water but it doesn’t mean they will drink the water.  Just because there is water to drink, doesn’t mean the kids will drink it.  On Aug. 18, six Apopka players were hospitalized with heat-related illnesses due to the scorching heat.  Coaches should allow at least four water breaks in a three-hour practice.

Coaches, don’t just stand there and watch the players get water, make sure they drink so they can stay hydrated and ready to play instead of in the hospital connected to an IV.  Players, don’t say you are fine, if you need water. Drink before it’s too late.

Rule number two:  Two-a-day’s are a no-no

It’s hot, really hot, like sweltering hot, and the thought of two practices a day in the state of Florida is unbearable.  Here on campus the football team did a week of two-a-days two weeks before the start of school.  Two-a-days usually consist of a morning practice, a couple of hours of rest and then an afternoon practice.  Two-a-day’s drain a player mentally and physically.

Here’s a fair compromise, if a morning practice takes place then the afternoon session should be a film session in the air conditioning or have a film session in the morning and a late afternoon practice, so that it’s not so hot.

Rule number three:  Focus on the players, not performance

Coaches can sometimes get really into their jobs and forget about the kids who are playing.  They focus on winning and nothing else.  They work the players to no end until they reach perfection.  There have even been instances where coaches have punished players by preventing water breaks or making them do twice the workload to achieve a certain state of mind where they think perfection is being accomplished.  When in reality, coaches are slowly killing their players, the key example being at Wekiva.Players: Doctors say echocardiograms should be included in pre-participation physicals required by Florida High School Athletic Association schools.

On campus head football coach Phil Ziglar keeps his practices at no more than two hours and the first 15
minutes are for stretching.

Ziglar stated in an interview with  the Orlando Sentinel, “I have had three-hour practices, and that’s stupid on my part.”

The guidelines set in place by the FHSAA are simply recommendations and coaches are not required to abide by these “rules.”  If the FHSAA enforced these rules
instead of just recommending them then deaths and injuries can be prevented.

The numbers regarding high school athletic fatalities are ridiculously high and shouldn’t be anywhere close to that.  If  coaches and players would follow guidelines and be more cautionary instead of blaming the heat or others, deaths would be prevented.

By admin

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