Sunday, November 18, 2012

Stop Youth From Dying In Sports

Recently the news media seems to be filled with one tragic story after another of youngsters dying from sports and/or other physically demanding activities. What in the world is going on with our youths' health?
Let me make this perfectly clear before continuing, I am not pointing fingers, assigning blame or declaring it's the work of the Lord for the rash of tragedies befallen our young athletes. I am simply sickened by the mishaps and want to call attention to them so perhaps someone smarter than I can arrive at an answer which will stop this appalling trend.
Although all of these deaths are awful, some can be contributed to being the result of a purely weird accident. A baseball player warming up before a game is struck by a thrown pitch and dies, I see no reason to go into the details of the event as the family has suffered enough, but it was a rare quirk of events resulting in the tragic accident.
This type of accident can not be avoided. I read a sudden gush of advice from self-appointed sports gurus about how and where to warm up, preventing players from being struck by bats and etc. The type of advice every baseball coach I've ever known automatically implements, because a whole lot of it is common sense.
Other events were of natural causes, heart failures, which were caused by unknown birth defects, which manifested when physically challenged with awful results. Again, there was no indication of a health issue, some medical professionals have declared it was inevitable and there was no way to alter the ending.
These passing's, although gut wrenching, are a fact of life where the "Good Die Young," and we are left to question the reasoning. I guess you could say if all the tragedies fell into these two categories, we could sadly go on our way and attempt to shrug off the depression with the knowledge there was nothing we could had done to prevent it.
However, the question I am wrestling with is "Is This Actually True?"
I originated long before the generation X, Y or Z, when a transistor radio was the newest of technological advance and it wouldn't be replaced by a newer version the following week. I suppose you could say we lived in a primitive time, but it was a time when full physical exertion of kids, from after school till nightfall, was the norm, not the rarity.
The only way you stayed inside on a sunny day was if you were sick, or as often was the case in my particular situation, grounded for being mischievous. The idea of playing games inside, toy soldiers or Barbie dolls, never crossed our minds when the sun shown.
Today too many of our kids shield themselves inside their rooms, behind closed curtains which shut out the sunlight, in order to play video games. I'm not smashing video games, well maybe, but I've never known of a pair of strong thumbs doing pushups or running the 100 yard dash. We have raised a generation of the most coordinated and quickly reflexed thumbs and fingers known to mankind, but the rest of the body is jell-o.
I'm sure it happened when I was a kid, but I don't ever remember a sports player dying at such a young age. Did the fact that we played baseball, football, soccer or basketball continuously from the age of 5 or 6 until our teens immune our bodies to a "Sudden Exertion Syndrome" which led to severe consequences. It only makes sense if your body is accustomed to being pushed from an early age, it would react better to stress at an older age.
Again, I'm not near educated enough to propose solutions to today's sports health issues, but as a former player and coach I will claim the right of experience, and my experience tells me we need to seriously look at the way our youngsters are physically developing, or not developing.
I read articles the U.S is behind All other nations in science and mathematics, yet we are also falling behind the world in physical fitness, which means we don't study or exercise. What the hell are we doing with our time?
I tend to ramble when I'm passionate about something and our Kids seemingly senselessly dying on the sports field is one such issue. I beg authority figures from parents, teachers, coaches and politicians to take a close look into the mirror and ask yourself if you're doing all you can to insure our kids live a long and healthy life.

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