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
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
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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.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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