Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon

Oregon high school football players make team visit to hospital — for treatment

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When will coaches ever learn? The lesson of the Junction Boys — Bear Bryant’s infamous desert preseason camp for his 1954 Texas A&M Aggies –is that putting your football players through intense practices in extreme heat with no access to water is a great way to decimate your team. Of course, that Bryant’s winless Aggies of 1954 went undefeated the next year must be why so many coaches persist of thinking about the Junction Boys as an effective exercise in team-building and following your coach, like how locking Patty Hearst in a closet was an effective exercise in team-building and following your Dear Leader.

Now there was someone who was coachable.

If first-year McMinnville, Ore., High School football coach Jeff Kearin wanted to follow an example of Bryant’s, he should have just gotten fitted for a houndstooth hat. Instead, Kearin put his charges through an indoor version of the Junction Boys, an indoor “immersion” cap that unified the team — at the local hospital.

From OregonLive.com (as of 10:30 p.m. local time Aug. 22):

Doctors say a unique combination of elements — high heat, dehydration and heavy exercise — is to blame for sending more than a dozen McMinnville High School football players to the hospital this week.

Dr. Craig Winkler, who treated seven of the affected players, said a workout at a preseason camp run by first-year coach Jeff Kearin on Aug. 15 probably triggered the uncommon soft-tissue condition, known as rhabdomyolysis, or its more serious counterpart, “compartment syndrome.” … [Left untreated, it can be fatal.]

Winkler said 14 players were admitted throughout the week, although about 30 players who attended the camp were referred to the hospital to be checked out.

Three players required emergency surgery, one on both arms. …

Players, with bedding in tow, arrived at the “immersion camp” Aug. 15 at the high school and were soon run through a series of push-ups and “chair dips,” which work out the triceps.  … [A parent of a sick player] said players have told him they were not allowed to drink water until they completed the exercises.

Winkler, who doubles as the football team’s physician, also questioned the wisdom of the workouts.

Players told him “they were working out for more than 20 minutes in an enclosed room in 115-degree heat,” Winkler said. “That seems pretty intense to me. From a medical point of view, I would not allow anyone to exercise at temperatures over 100.”

Apparently players were afraid to speak up because they were all too busy trying to impress the new coach, who said the 11 hardest-working players would get to play, according to the OregonLive.com account. Plus, what high school player has ever stood up to a football coach? And lived? Of course, if Kearin deemed players were slacking off, they would have to do the drill again.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a hard workout, or even making players do a drill again if they aren’t working hard enough. But if it’s in the 90s outside, and you’re in an un-air conditioned room, you might want to make a few allowances for safety. This highlights how in almost all cases at the high school level at below, there is no medical professional or anyone else to tell a coach to back off. Maybe there is a trainer who works for the coach. So it’s upon coaches to make the smart decision — one that isn’t always made. (Perhaps it would help if coaches were instructed, or had access, to call a physician or someone who could make a medical judgment on what they could do in extreme conditions.)

Kearin is quoted at OregonLive.com that he realizes his “silence is deafening,” but that the school won’t let him talk. He shouldn’t worry. Kearin will be able to talk all he wants, under his counsel’s watch, in the at least 30 lawsuits (30 being the number of players that had to make a trip to the hospital) that will be coming against the school.

However, Kearin might have one saving grace that could keep him out of criminal court and make him the next Jason Stinson. From OregonLive.com:

But Winkler said he is also waiting for blood tests looking for the presence of creatine, a legal, loosely regulated and widely available bodybuilding supplement present in a number of weight-gain products that has been linked to an increased risk of sports-related injury.

“We’re looking to see if there’s some inciting event or some toxins that led to this massive injury,” Winkler said.

Creatine was a factor in the case against Stinson, a Louisville high school football coach acquitted last year on charges relating to the death of one of his players, who overheated during a practice on a 90-degree day. There was evidence the deceased player had used creatine, a muscle-building supplement that can accelerate dehydration. (The player also had taken ADHD medication, which has a similar effect on dehydration.)

If Kearin stuck his players in a hot, hot room and didn’t let them have water, he was stone wrong. But if any of those players were taking supplements that turned being overheated into a near-fatal illness — well, Kearin is still wrong, but it’s possible he could be off the hook legally. Hey, if Kearin is going to follow Bryant’s path, getting away with running his players into the ground early in his career would lead to a lot of success later.

LATE ADD: In another story, Dr. Winkler says that the affected players — three of whom did have compartment syndrome (out of the 19 players out of the 30 checked that ended up having injuries) — will not be tested for steroids because, according to The Associated Press, it’s believed “it would be unlikely for that many students to have access, and ‘creatine makes way more sense.'”

Are you kidding me? If one player can have a steroid connection, that person would be MORE than happy to sell to multiple players on one team. This is not a comment on whether the players were taking steroids or anything else. Again, even if they were roided to the gills (because they were so roided they developed gills), that coach should not have had them in a hotbox for drills. But the school is fooling itself if it thinks it’s not possible for the whole damn team to be juicing.

Heck, if I were the school, and I could get away with it (but maybe I couldn’t), I would insist on toxicology tests for every chemical known and unknown to man as a way to limit my liability when the lawsuits come. After all, if it turned out that the injured players were using something (again, I have no evidence they did, nor do I mean to say they did — I’m thinking like a desperate-to-save-my-ass superintendent), and the players who did not succumb to the heat were not, I would want that as Exhibit A in my defense.

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Written by rkcookjr

August 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Prayer and sports: An uncomfortable pairing of Biblical proportions

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On the National Day of Prayer, let me state that I’m no fan of mixing sports and religion.

I don’t like Bible verses on eyeblack, Bible verses on banners, prayers over the loudspeaker, and prayers led by the coach in an optional ceremony that, really, you aren’t compelled to take part in, unless you want your ass nailed to bench like Jesus’ wrists. I was thrilled when the U.S. Supreme Court, no bastion of atheists, in 2009 refused to hear the appeal of a New Jersey high school football coach fighting his public school district so he could lead team prayers, especially because the court refused to swallow the glop served by friends of the court such as the American College Football Association:

There is a reason why persons are not typically moved to pray before playing monopoly, or bridge, or a round of golf with friends, but frequently are moved to pray immediately prior to or after playing a high school or college football game. It’s not just the violent nature of the sport and the ever-present possibility of serious and perhaps life-altering injury; it’s also the sense that these games are important signposts marking the road to becoming an adult.

I also will cheer when the rulings of that Supreme Court will be used to beat down a pandering bill passed in April in the Florida House that would would “bar schools from infringing on the First Amendment freedoms of teachers, staff or students unless they sign a written waiver of those rights,” basically a way to get around the ACLU’s victory over the Santa Rosa County (Fla.) School Board allowing its Christian fascists to run wild, practically requiring preaching at the public school.

For the record, technically speaking, I am Christian, having been baptized Catholic, confirmed Episcopalian, married Catholic, baptized my four kids Catholic, then jumped to the United Church of Christ. The latter denomination holds great appeal because I think it does what any religion can do best: evangelize not by loudly proclaiming how Godly you are, or how unGodly someone is, or how much you love Jesus you just can’t help but speak in tongues during a timeout in your high school basketball game. It emphasizes showing your spirit through, basically, being a good person and doing good things, and letting people catch on that maybe your faith has something to do with that.

No denomination or faith has a monopoly on that, of course. But that explains my mistrust of people and institutions that feel they must bash you over the head with their religion, demanding your participation and conversion lest ye be called a savia hata.

However, I (hopefully) am open-minded enough to realize that even when people are bringing forced prayer into places I don’t think it should go, sometimes the people who oppose them can be even bigger jackholes.

Case in point: a dispute over mixing prayer and youth baseball in Medford, Ore., where apparently it’s fairly common for coaches to end a Little League practice or game with a few words for The Man Upstairs. Given the Little League pledge — “I trust in God. I love my country and will respect its laws. I will play fair and strive to win. But win or lose, I will always do my best.” — it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility for prayer to be involved.

As manager, I wouldn’t do it for my 7-year-old’s baseball team, not just because we’re not associated with Little League, and not just because we have at least one Muslim on the team, and not just because of my own prickly feelings about prayer and sport. It’s also because 6- and 7-year-old boys have about a 3-second attention span, so I would get only as far as “Oh God…” before someone told a fart joke.

Anyway, a Medford National Little League assistant coach, Mike E. Miles, didn’t cotton to the Jesusness of his manager Chris Palmer, who started with asking his players to take a knee after practice, then escalated from there. Miles told the Medford Mail Tribune that Palmer asked if anyone objected. But showing the youth sports political skill that got him on the league’s board, Miles told the paper, “As a parent and assistant coach, what do you say? ‘No, we don’t like Jesus or God’?” Miles’ antenna were particularly up because his daughter is on the baseball team — the only girl on the team.

As anyone associated with youth sports knows, reasonable people did not meet to discuss their differences to come to a mutually agreeable conclusion. Instead, Miles went to the board and called for Palmer to be fired. Instead, on May 2, a few days after his complaint, Miles was booted off the board, and he took his daughter off the team.

The board was full of Jesus people ready to smack down someone who wouldn’t pray on the field, right? Maybe. But Miles was making his own bed to shit in. From the Medford Mail Tribune:

The prayers continued. Miles remained silent — until Palmer questioned Miles’ integrity for teaching “cat and mouse” base-running techniques. Players are taught to feign injuries and stumble on the base paths in order to confuse the opponent — and score runs, Miles said.

“[Palmer] called me deceitful,” Miles said. “These are standard plays. Miles Field was named after my dad (Shorty Miles). He’s saying my father and the great coaches who taught me these plays are unethical. I went ballistic. I admit it.”

Palmer is right. And Miles is right. Palmer shouldn’t lead the team in prayer if everyone isn’t comfortable, and Miles shouldn’t teach 9-year-olds how to get an extra base by pretending to have a sudden knee energy.

If I may give myself permission to offer my own prayer, I pray these men see the error of their ways, and we can get back to sports with metaphysical conflict.

Written by rkcookjr

May 6, 2010 at 6:30 pm