Over the past few weeks, as the temperature soars in Central Arkansas, there has been much media attention to heat related illness. Agencies gather fans to distribute to those less fortunates who have no air conditioning. The Arkansas Democrat Gazette ran a series of articles following up on three heat stroke victims – young athletes overcome during 2010 summer football practice. (Three separate incidents in as many schools during one blistering hot week in August. One boy did not recover.)
Now, coaches are required to attend workshops explaining emergency treatment for heat related illness. And as I’ve said, there has been much information forthcoming from news anchors and guest ‘specialists’ they have interviewed.
The admonition in all this is: drink plenty of water, pour water over your head or better yet hose down. Have ice packs handy and CPR equipment ready and a cell phone to call 911.
I listened to this and suddenly felt like the little girl watching the emperor walk naked through the streets.
STOP! Here is a group of young men running around in the sunshine wearing 40 pounds of equipment. (This is a ‘biblical’ 40 pounds, since I have no idea how much it really weighs.) Why are they outside in triple-digit weather? This is not a rhetorical question. We know why they are there. Because if they don’t make practice they won’t be on the team next fall. And because coaches (and some parents) begin yelling, “push through it” while the kids are still in pee wee ball.
Of course, the coach is standing on the sidelines holding a clipboard. He can hydrate whenever he feels the need. I never heard of a coach falling out with heat stroke.
I grew up in the south. We hoed the garden early in the morning. Cotton pickers went to work at dawn and quit about noon. Nowadays, farmers have lights on their equipment so they can work after the sun goes down and air conditioners in the cabs to protect them in the hottest part of the day.
Noel Coward said, “Mad dogs and Englshmen go out in the midday sun.” I don’t know this complete work but I take it to mean that only someone who is a little touched in the head would work outside in the heat of the day.
If the cleat fits …