Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Archive for January 28th, 2009

Water, water everywhere

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In the wake of the Jason Stinson indictment, coaches everywhere wish to inform you they won’t deny your children water and kill them.

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The watering can at your child’s next football practice.

The reckless homicide charge filed against Louisville high school football coach Jason Stinson is in part based on witness testimony that he denied his players’ requests for water, thus leading to the heat stroke-related death of 15-year-old Max Gilpin during summer practice. Stinson pleaded not guilty and denies he withheld water.

Whatever the case, it’s becoming clearer that coaches, players and parents, even those who are aware of the need for frequent water breaks, underestimate just how much water their children need to stay hydrated, particularly during hot weather.

As a youth basketball coach, often I’m begging kids to use a water break for drinking water. Not that anyone has collapsed, or come close, but I have kid who say they’re not thristy, or who don’t feel like going. I don’t know how much water they need, exactly, but I do know none is too little. When kids come to the bench during a game, I have them drink water, and I don’t deny any kid who needs to run to the drinking fountain because he or she didn’t bring a bottle.

The point about underestimating water needs was made very well by a caller to the NPR show “Talk of the Nation,” a man who identified himself as a football coach from Chillicothe, Ohio. The Jan. 27 show was devoted to the Jason Stinson indictment.

The caller, who comes in fairly early in the show, says he’s coached football for nine years, and that he is insistent that players take frequent breaks, as well as drink if they’re waiting in line to do a drill in summer practice. Even still, he has had kids succumb to heat exhaustion, and had one case of heat stroke that required the coaches to strip a player down to his shorts and stick him in a cold shower.

Why? Because in this coach’s estimation, the water consumed during practice takes care of only about 15 percent of a player’s hydration needs.

I don’t know out of what orifice he pulled that figure, but it sounds good. He recommends that players drink plenty of water before and after practice. That way, you’re keeping your body consistently hydrated and reducing the risk of overheating. That sounds like good advice for any sport.

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Cheerleading: it’s a contact sport

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So says Charlie Sheen. And the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

It is denying an injured cheerleader the right to sue the male spotter who missed catching her during a practice routine, as well as the right to sue her school district and the district’s insurer.

At issue in the case was whether cheerleaders qualify for immunity under a Wisconsin law that prevents participants in contact sports from suing each other for unintentional injuries.

It does not spell out which sports are contact sports. The District 4 Court of Appeals ruled last year cheerleading doesn’t qualify because there’s no contact between opposing teams.

But all seven members of the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to overturn that decision. In the opinion, Justice Annette Ziegler said cheerleading involves “a significant amount of physical contact between the cheerleaders.” As an example, she cited stunts in which cheerleaders are tossed in the air.

If you’ve ever seen cheerleaders tossing each other around at a football or basketball game at the college level or younger, you realize your child would be much safer taking a helmet-to-helmet hit from a young Troy Polamalu or taking a charge from Shaquille O’Neal than they would doing 25-story pyramids or being tossed over the Sears Tower or whatever other death-defying routines the clearly sadistic cheerleader coach has mandated. The AP story to which I linked notes there have been 100 “catastrophic” cheerleading injuries since 1982.

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Sure, you’re laughing now, boys. But you won’t be laughing when her broken self sees you in court.

Hopefully, this ruling will force high school football coaches to substitute cheerleading for dancing as the implicitly pansy-ass contact sport that they contrast to football as the not-pansy-ass collision sport.

Written by rkcookjr

January 28, 2009 at 12:31 pm

Coaches: Just because attacking a crazy parent is legal and satisfying does not make it wise

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A Pennsylvania girls high school basketball coach goes all Ron Artest on a heckling parent but gets acquitted of criminal charges. From the Allentown Morning Call:

A Lehigh County district judge ruled Tuesday that the former girls basketball coach at Salisbury High School was not guilty of disorderly conduct when he went into the stands during a game last month and scuffled with a player’s father for heckling him all game long.

“I know the popular belief is that the worst part of coaching youth sports is dealing with parents,” said District Judge Anthony Rapp. “If there ever was a case where that is true, it’s here.”

Ken Shankweiler, who resigned from the team days after the Dec. 20 incident, had been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly placing his hands around the neck of John Hrebik, the father of junior guard Caitlin Hrebik, during a game against Wilson Area High School, which Salisbury lost 62-19.

Shankweiler, 52, of Hanover Township, Northampton County, admitted Tuesday that he had been trying to avoid Hrebik’s repeated heckling as his team struggled early in the game against Wilson, but ultimately couldn’t. He said he had previous run-ins with Hrebik, who admitted that he had been told by school officials to tone down his criticism or stop going to games.

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“Now Artest Shankweiler has jumped over the scorers’ table, and is trying to get down to the bench! Artest Shankweiler is in the stands! Oh, this is awful!”

Yes, a true jury of Shankweiler’s peers — coaches who have had it with overbearing parents — would have set him free. In this case, it was just a judge. Not that Shankweiler got off scot-free. He resigned as coach on Dec. 22, two days after the incident. He also apologized for his actions.

The judge didn’t exactly give a hearty endorsement of Shankweiler’s Terry O’Reilly impersonation:

While he could not find Shankweiler guilty, Rapp said “morally, I think the whole thing stinks.”

“We are supposed to be the intelligent, responsible adults and we let a basketball game come to this,” he said. “What happened to letting the kids have fun first?”

The judge let the dork parent have it, too:

“If you are going to be attending anymore games, be a spectator, a silent spectator,” he said. “These are not professional athletes.”

Interestingly, Hrebik referees local ballgames and is a basketball tournament organizer. The sports editor of the Allentown Morning Call had to recuse himself from the story because he identified Hrebik as a “good friend.”

No word on whether Wilson Area High School was apologetic about the 43-point scoring margin, or whether the head coach was fired for it.

Update on my own parenting and coaching

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It’s back to bowling season for my 6-year-old. He bowls two games every Saturday. They can be divided neatly into what snacks his four-player team consumes during the session. The first is the popcorn game, and the second is the french fries game. My major responsibility is standing in line at the concession counter for the fries.

Meanwhile, my sixth-grade son is moving up to seventh- and eighth-grade coed ball after completing his fifth- and sixth-grade league. The league needed sixth-graders to come in to fill out spots so there were four eight-member teams. My son is the only sixth-grader on his team, but after one practice, he seems to be doing OK. The competition is strong, include a few girls from a local junior high school team.

The hardest thing for me is that I’m an assistant coach, switching places with my brother-in-law, who was my assistant for the fifth- and sixth-grade league. I’m used to being in charge and yakking whenever I feel like it, so I have to hold back and let my brother-in-law take the lead. He knows what he’s doing; the difficult part is that I have a naturally loud voice (an actor’s voice, not a yelling voice), and I am ready and willing to use it.

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Block out, already!

Written by rkcookjr

January 28, 2009 at 10:03 am