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News from the Plains: All this RED can make you BLUE

Let's Hurl One for the Gipper
by Barry Friedman

Eight student athletes (which will be the last time that phrase is used by me) and three adults from something called the Felix Jones Football and Life Skills Academy were treated for heat-related illness last week, both at the scene and at local hospitals.

The heat index reached 103 degrees.

Camp organizers say they take every precaution to keep students safe in the heat
By doing everything, apparently, except not having them practice in such oppressive conditions in the first place.

The bigger question, of course, is why camps like these--glorified football practices--are allowed to operate?  The OSSAA (Oklahoma Secondary Schools Athletic Association) has rules about such things.

For the practice without pads may begin on Monday, August 12.
B. For the 2013 season, practice with pads may begin on Friday, August 16.
Take a look now at the football "camps" at Jenks High School, the premier 6-A high school football program in the state.
FOOTBALL – ALLAN TRIMBLE    

Varsity Indy Camp
Date:               June 5
Age:                Grades 10 - 12
Time:              7:00 am - 1:00 pm
Location:        Stadium
Cost:               $20
Equipment:    Helmet, shoulder pads, girdle/shorts, mouthpiece, cleats

Trojan Varsity Team Camp -  paid by Booster Club
Date:               June 3-4
Age:                Grades 10 - 12
Time:              7:00 am - 1:00 pm
Location:        Stadium / Track Field
Equipment:    Helmet, shoulder pads, girdles, mouthpiece, cleats

Grades 8 - 9 Team Camp - paid by Booster Club
Date:               May 30-31
Time:              9:00 am** - 12:00 noon   Note.**bus leaves Sharp @ 7:45 am
Location:        Broken Arrow
Equipment:    Helmet, shoulder pads, girdles or shorts, mouthpiece, cleats

Grades 8 - 9 Indy Camp
Date:               May 28-29 (Tues & Wed)
Time:              8:00 am - 1:00 pm
Location:        Stadium
Cost:               $40
Equipment:    Helmet, shoulder pads, girdles or shorts, mouthpiece, cleats

Mighty-Mite Skills Camp – K- 6th grade
Date/Time:     June 11-14
Time:              10:00 am - 12 noon
Location:        Stadium, Concessions Available
Cost:               $60 - includes T-shirt
Equipment:    T-shirt, shorts, running shoes NO pads needed

ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE TRAINING (Speed/Power/Strength)
Grades:          7-9
Date:               June 10 - July 26       (off July 3,4,5)
Time:              8:00 am - 10:00 am (M, T, Th, F)  
Location:        R.L. Sharp Weight Room / Track
Equipment:    T-shirts, shorts, cleats, running shoes
Cost:               $120 - includes T-shirt

ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE TRAINING (Speed/Power/Strength)
Grades:          10-12
Date:               June 10 – Aug 9 (off July 3,4,5)
Time:              6:00 am - 8:00 am (M, T, Th, F)
Location:        R.L. Sharp Weight Room / Track
Equipment:    T-shirts, shorts, cleats, running shoes
Cost:               $130 - includes T-shirt

And to quote my favorite sports philosopher, Allen Iverson, "And we're talking about practice!"

Oh, and who's Allan Trimble? The Jenks High School Head Football Coach.

Only a cynic, though, would think he does any coaching at these camps or that they're not treated like practice.

(Who you calling a cynic?)

So how do coaches get away with this obvious--wait for it--end run around the rules?

a) They're voluntary (Yeah, and I want to be the fly on the Gatorade when the starting QB tells his coach, "Dude, it's voluntary. I don't have to really, really be here"),  
b) The camps are open to all students (And what tenth grader not involved in football wouldn't want to spend July in a weight room being screamed at by some man with a clipboard and a whistle and control issues?), and
c) The OSSAA tells coaches how to do it.

Just don't call it organized summer practice. Call it--uh, you know-- a life skills academy.

XX. PARTICIPATION IN CAMPS CLINICS, AND SUMMER PRACTICES, LEAGUES AND TOURNAMENTS
B. In football and basketball, school personnel who are serving or are designated to serve as coaches or assistant coaches:
1. may not conduct practice for a school team, in a direct or indirect manner, during this summer period as defined above;
2. may coach a team that includes individuals that are members of a school team during this summer period, in a camp, clinic,
summer league, or summer tournament.
So Item 1 says coaches may not conduct practice for a school team, but Item 2 says they can coach a team that includes individuals that are members of a school team.

You say conduct, I say coach, let's call the whole thing off.

This also works out exceptionally well when every member in the camp is a member of the team.

I'm sure that never, ever happens, though.

The serious part here is the health of these players--and it's not going to be solved by more water breaks and loose-fitting clothing.

Since 1995, according National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina, 40 students have died due to such heat-related injuries.

These camps need be held indoors in July and August, because--even though, there's no such thing as global warming, especially in Oklahoma--it still gets pretty damn hot here, or prohibited entirely, as the only time players are exposed to this kind of heat is when they're practicing in it.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a study in August 2010 that concluded heat illness is the leading cause of death and disability among American high school athletes. The CDC estimated that heat stress is responsible for an average of more than 9,000 heat illnesses among high school athletes annually and that football players are 10 times more likely to experience heat illness than students who played the eight other surveyed sports.
10 times more likely to experience heat illness

These camps have as much to do with “life skills” as I do with sheepherding.

OSSAA, Jenks

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