Foot­ball coaches didn’t need a rule to play it safe

The Covington News - - Opinion -

In many parts of the U.S. the pres­sure to win foot­ball games in high school is in­tense. Even here in Ge­or­gia, high school foot­ball is con­sid­ered king. Be­cause of that pres­sure, coaches will do al­most any­thing to win. That in­cludes push­ing their play­ers to the limit and be­yond. So when the Ge­or­gia High School As­so­ci­a­tion put some new rules in place to limit risks of heat ex­haus­tion and stroke this week, it was the right move.

Foot­ball coaches want to build tough­ness. Foot­ball is the clos­est thing we have to the days of the gla­di­a­tors in an­cient Rome. It’s phys­i­cal. It can be a bru­tal game. And part of build­ing that tough­ness is in­still­ing a no-quit at­ti­tude. The prob­lem with that is kids will push them­selves to the point of in­jury to prove their tough­ness. No foot­ball player wants to look like a wimp. If a coach isn’t smart, he’ll push them too far. With the heat in Ge­or­gia, this be­comes in­creas­ingly risky.

Now that the state has limited prac­tices by ban­ning three-a-day ses­sions and pro­hibit­ing back-to­back two-a-days, coaches can no longer push the en­ve­lope. For­tu­nately here in New­ton County, we haven’t had a prob­lem with over­ex­pos­ing play­ers to the heat. East­side head coach Rick Hurst, Al­covy’s Kirk Hoffman and New­ton’s Cortez Allen each want to build the best, most phys­i­cal team they can. But they do so with the play­ers’ safety in mind. We are for­tu­nate to have three coaches in the county who un­der­stand foot­ball is a just a game. Granted, they each want to win each game they coach. But they don’t sac­ri­fice the safety of our county’s youth.

We ap­pre­ci­ate what foot­ball coaches do for our com­mu­nity and the young men who trust their lead­er­ship. While the new rules may cramp some coaches’ style, they may save lives. And that’s why they are a nec­es­sary step in the right di­rec­tion.

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