Heat has no mercy on young athletes

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 25, 2005


The August heat wave has made life miserable for dogs and otheranimals who live outdoors. Pause and consider the state ofhumanity. Most of us are spoiled by air conditioning. If feels likethe oven door has been opened when we step outside.

Consider even more the plight of high school and collegefootball players who must combat the heat in suffocating,protective equipment. Heat stroke and dehydration go hand-in-handwhen the heat index is 90 degrees and higher.

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Call this one man’s crusade to push back the opening game of thefootball season a few weeks. Dr. Ennis Proctor, executive directorof the Mississippi High School Activities Association; and LesTriplett, director of the Mississippi Private School Association;should take note.

Perhaps if they engaged in a few competitive wind sprints on aFriday night in August, they would appreciate the exhausting amountof fluids shed by young men who are trying to play football to thebest of their ability. Many players have to play both ways,especially at smaller schools.

Young athletes don’t jog or walk from one yard line to the next.It’s wide-open. This is competition at its best. The adrenalin isflowing.

“Well, we encourage plenty of water breaks for the kids,” saidone administrator who was obviously overweight and had not playedfootball in 30 years. “The officials can even allow two waterbreaks in one quarter, if it’s extremely hot.”

Unfortunately, when some parent loses a son from heatexhaustion, and then files a lawsuit, the matter will receive moreserious attention. Until that time, the situation will continue toslide along.

Football season starts earlier each year in an effort toaccommodate extended Christmas vacations in the academic year. Forsure, this doesn’t help the young athlete who has been knockinghimself dizzy in practice since the last week of July.

Readers take note. Encourage your favorite administrator tolobby for a later start to the football season. It’s the sensibleand right thing to do.

In the meantime, insist that your favorite football playerconsume gallons of water prior to each game and the night beforethe big game. Football fans would be wise to carry an extra canteenof water themselves to the games, too. It gets awfully hot justsitting in the stands.

Note of thanks: We appreciate all the coacheswho returned football questionnaires to our sports department. Theinformation was compiled in our annual Gridiron Preview which willbe published Friday.

New Loyd Star head coach Joshua Thibodeaux was the first toreturn the questionnaire and Mitch Mitchell of Copiah Academy wassecond. We wish all the coaches and players the best of luck thisseason. Hope you win a championship.

Speaking of dehydration, Professor Hoopla B.S., was last seenstaggering toward a swimming pool. Hoopla was delirious afterriding his bicycle 12 miles on a recent August morning. Obviously,the heat got to him.

Before diving in, Hoopla handed me a sweat-soaked list ofpredictions. His high school football forecast was smeared andbarely legible.

Looking at this week’s winners, the grizzled prognosticatorbegins with a Thursday night special.

West Lincoln at Loyd Star: The Hornets arerejuvenated under a new coaching staff and ready to fly. The Bearsare rebuilding. Loyd Star 24-6.

Brookhaven at Franklin County: In a battle ofgridiron powers, the Panthers escape Meadville with a narrow win.Brookhaven 10-6.

Brookhaven Academy at Prentiss Christian: Aftera hard week of practice, the Cougars are ready to redeemthemselves. Brookhaven Academy 20-12.

Bogue Chitto at North Pike: In a battle of archrivals, the Jaguars eke out a win in Summit. North Pike 19-13.

Enterprise at Wesson: Another excitingencounter features the Fighting Jackets and their impressing groundattack versus the pass-minded Cobras. Wesson 24-20.

Lawrence County at West Jones: Mustangs areespecially strong on defense. West Jones 17-8.

East Rankin at Copiah Academy: These Colonelsare definitely for real. Copiah 35-6.

South Pike at McComb: New head coach RandyMartin gets his baptism under fire as the Tigers tackle a talentedflock of Eagles. South Pike 27-7.

Parklane at Bowling Green: Pioneers are eagerto get their season started. Parklane 21-10.