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-to-back 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.