Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Two-a-Days: A Game Plan for Trouble

Let's take our eyes off the roller coaster stock ticker for a minute and talk about something else that can make your heart stop -- literally. Surely you know that Texas is in the midst of a killer heat wave. That's why I was left chilled when Lake Highlands Today (@LHToday) tweeted:
"With the start of two-a-days, the 2011 Wildcat football campaign is now officially underway. GO 'CATS!"
The excitement is misguided. Football two-a-day drills are a relic of an age when abusing your body was considered proof that you were tough enough for football. And what is more abusive than to overwork a body in extreme summer heat, then do it a second time the same day, before the body has time to recover?

After the jump, a new look at the unsafe practice of summer two-a-days.

We long ago quit playing football without helmets, even though that was once considered manly. Even with helmets, it's taken us decades to begin to appreciate the dangers of concussions. Players are no longer encouraged to "shake it off" and get back on the field.

Now, the traditional summer two-a-day drills are getting a close look and are being found to be unsafe. The NCAA limited the practice in 2003. The NFL has just banned them altogether in its new agreement with players. This month, the USA Today called on high schools to follow suit:
"Football is inherently violent, but no one -- least of all a teenager -- should die playing it. If the NFL and colleges can find ways to curtail the danger, high schools ought to be able to follow their playbook. ... But on both health issues [heat stroke and concussions], high school football officials and state lawmakers have shown indifference that borders on negligence."
Hear that, RISD? "Indifference that borders on negligence." Don't wait for the UIL to catch up to the pros in adequately protecting our young athletes. Take the lead here.

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