By Ken Reed
Too many college and high school athletes have collapsed and died in the last decade due to overzealous coaches and trainers who use over-the-top conditioning drills in an effort to “toughen up” the athletes under their direction.
These workout sessions are lightly regulated at best and coaches “just run willy-nilly” trying to make men out of boys,” said athletic trainer Douglas Casa. “A lot of them are not focused on health and safety issues.”
Conditioning sessions typically include running sprints, lifting weights, and endurance exercises, according to Associated Press medical writer Lindsey Tanner.
Due to the deaths caused by excessive conditioning, and high-profile cases like the 13 University of Iowa football players who were hospitalized last year due to a muscle-damaging condition called exertional rhabdomyolysis, which is caused by intense exertion, new workout guidelines have been recently established by a coalition of medical and training groups, including the American College of Sports Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the National Athletic Trainers Association, and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.
The new guidelines emphasize that conditioning workouts should be phased in rather than starting at maximum intensity on the first day. They also stress that exercise should not be used as punishment and that conditioning coaches should be trained in health and safety issues, as well as certified in first aid, resuscitation and heart defibrillation. The guidelines target college coaches and trainers, as well as high school and youth sports coaches and trainers.
The guidelines challenge “the old athletic mentality that if a little bit is good, a lot must be better,” said Jim Thornton, president of the trainers’ association.
Working athletes longer and harder “is not exercising smart,” said Dr. Jolie Holschen, a Chicago emergency medicine and sports medicine specialist, and co-author of the new guidelines.
It’s past time for coaches out of the “drive them into the ground” Vince Lombardi mode to get their egos out of the way and focus on the health and safety of the athletes they’re leading.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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