With the beginning of fall sports practice comes hope, optimism and high expectations for all that are involved. Every team begins the season 0-0 and has their eyes set on the playoffs. A lucky break here or an injury there can make or break a team’s season in the blink of an eye.
The beginning of practice also means those dreaded two-a-day practices in football or those humid road runs to prepare for cross country. Each year more and more unsuspecting teens die during summer practice and camps due to the heat. This year has been no exception.
In a seven-day span from late July to early August, four players and one coach have passed away. Heat has been ruled a factor in three of the deaths while two of the autopsies are still pending. If all four player deaths are ruled to be heat related, it would represent the most heat-related deaths in high school football since 2006, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury at the University of North Carolina.
The troubling news is that the season is just getting underway. Players and coaches need to do everything possible to guard against heat-related injuries and death.
According to the NCCSI, which tracks sports deaths of every cause, 30 heat-related deaths have occurred in football from 1995 through 2009, an average of two per year. The most deaths were five in 2006. In 2002 and 2003, there were none, the only years that have passed without any heat-related deaths since 1995.
We’ve run articles in the past warning coaches and players about the severity of heat injuries and the precautions needed to guard against them. One coach in our area seems to be doing his part. I attended the Lapeer East football camp with Oxford in mid-July. While there, I observed Lapeer East coach Jake Weingartz give his kids three water breaks in a 45-minute span. Each time he gave a break, he instructed, “Get some water even if you don’t want any.” Weingartz made sure his kids stayed hydrated and cooled down every 15 minutes.
All coaches should follow the guidelines on preventing heat injuries and not push their kids in the heat of the summer. These senseless deaths need to stop!
Panic in Motown?
As of Aug. 10, the Detroit Tigers have a three-game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the Central Division race. Tuesday night, the Tigers lost a 14-inning affair to the Indians, 3-2.
On Monday, the Tigers had an off day, but still made some headlines by signing general manager Dave Dombrowski to a four-year extension and manager Jim Leyland for one more year. I agree it’s not ideal to try and win a division with a lame-duck manager and a GM fighting for his job, but to give the extensions with no guarantee of making the playoffs seems odd to me.
What happens if the Tigers end up missing the playoffs again? What message does that send to the fans? To me, it shows that the Tigers are rewarding mediocrity. Being in first place during the season is nice, but if we miss the playoffs, oh well. That’s absurd and I disagree with the extensions wholeheartedly.
Year in, year out under Leyland, the Tigers have been in first place or within a game of first place at the All-Star break in five of his six seasons. In those six years, the Tigers have no division titles to show for it and one playoff showing when they blew a three game lead in 2006 with three games to go to earn a Wild Card berth.
As much as I want to believe otherwise, I am convinced the Tigers are going to choke under Leyland once again until he proves otherwise. Hopefully, the Tigers can prove me wrong and win their first division title since 1987 but I do not believe in Leyland.
The Tigers have one of the top two pitchers in the game and one of the top three hitters in the game not to mention the only closer in baseball not to have a blown a save this year. And to top it all off, they play in the weakest division in baseball. If the Tigers choke once again, Leyland deserves to be fired on the spot, not rewarded.