News Sports

Self-protection is key

As the weeks roll by, high school football season draws ever closer. Players have already begun to hit the weights and the field this week as spring training kicks off.
As players gear up, the number-one concern for coaches is safety.
Switching through the telly this week, I noticed a special on concussions, which continue to pose a huge problem for professional athletes who endure physical contact. During my career as a hockey player, I endured a total of three concussions. Each time, the headaches seemed to hurt more, and the symptoms seemed to get worse.
I have witnessed every teammate receive an injury at some point and have witnessed some of the nastiest hits possible. It is imperative to every player that he (or she) know what injuries could be sustained in a particular sport and how they could be prevented.
Last year, a Mobile-area student received a Life Flight helicopter ride from the football field, an event that no parent or coach should have to play witness to.
Head-to-head hits are avoidable in every sport. Sometimes, yes, it happens by accident, but these injuries can be better avoided than they are.
Shoulder pads and helmets are there for a reason and should be used properly. Many players find chin straps uncomfortable and hindering, but that tiny piece of equipment can save your life. I am guilty of unbuckling my chinstrap or making it too loose so that it will feel better.
During a hockey game one evening, I did just that. As the game progressed, I loosened my chinstrap to a comfortable position for myself without the official noticing. A few minutes later I skated head-first into the boards after taking a hit from behind and my helmet flew off. As a result, I had a severe concussion.
This could have been avoided if I would have followed safety protocol.
Almost all major injuries in sports can be avoided. ACL tears and similar injuries happen and cannot be avoided, but a head injury normally can.
Officials do more than just determine the game penalties; they are also there to protect the players.
Make sure your equipment fits properly and is in good working order.
If a coach sends a player out on the field of play, with knowledge that equipment is too large, small or doesn’t fit the player properly, there should be fines, penalties or possible suspensions for the coach.
As a player, it is your job to check your equipment and yourself. An injury can quickly put you out of the game that you love forever, or worse. Players frequently die in sports accidents, and almost in every case it could have been avoided.
Water and hydration are a beast all by themselves.
The bottom line here is, do not be dumb. Drink plenty of water. With spring football comes heat; with heat comes dehydration.
When equipment and physically demanding workouts and drills are added to the equation of heat in excess of 100 degrees, water is your best and only friend.
Without plenty of water you will be weak and pass out or worse.
As every year passes, it seems like more and more hydration-related sports deaths of young people are being reported.
Do not be one of those statistics. Take care of yourself.
As a player, you know how your body is supposed to feel. If you feel sick or weak, take a break and know when to take your own safety into consideration. You are doing your team no good in the hospital because of personal neglect of water.
The bottom line this week is to stay safe and use your heads. Your equipment is there for a reason; rules are there for a reason, and your coaches are there to help you stay safe.
Honor your team and teammates, your family and your school by playing safe.