Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Good ole days weren't always so good for prep athletes

Hyrdation is a bigger concern these days


Summer sports are winding down and the weather has been heating up—just in time for fall sports practices.

Many of the teams are out doing conditioning and some drills this week. No pads in football so that’s a break for the kids.

It was a lot different back in the good ole days. (This is where I go off into some nostalgic rant about how mistreated we were, back then, in the ole days...) For football, there were turnouts twice a day regardless of the weather, and there wasn’t much consideration for hydration in those days. In fact, the word hydration wasn’t even used. I don’t recall any heat stroke on our teams, but it was certainly going on around the country. Every year, players would actually die from a lack of hydration.

The attitude seemed to be that if you wanted water too much, you were weak. Fortunately, I grew up around Puget Sound where it didn’t get all that hot very often. Still, like this past weekend and Monday, the weather did get warm. Drinking fluids seems like a pretty good idea.

You weren’t allowed to have your hair too long either, and Heaven forbid you grow a mustache or sideburns. There was a stringent dress code for sports, but it applied to the student body as a whole. You could go out for football or cross country. There was no soccer, and there were very little sports for girls—tennis and synchronized swimming in our high school. Separate P.E. classes, too. They even ran a curtain down the middle of the gym. Girls couldn’t have their dresses too short and guys couldn’t have their pants too tight.

There was no concern for girls in volleyball. There wasn’t any. Girls weren’t allowed to run cross country, and there certainly was no girls’ soccer.

If a player took a hard hit and got a little woozy, it was known as getting your bell rung. There wasn’t much concern about it and players were usually sent back in as soon as they could put two words together. You know what I mean. “Are you ready to play son?” “Yes, sir” was the standard reply. And back in you went. I still wonder about some of my classmates that went back in.

These days they do base testing before the season and then use those results to gauge when someone is ready for action.

There’s more concern for athletes these days, and coaches are rightfully worried about an athlete going back in to soon. Kids don’t want to let down their teammates, but they shouldn’t be hobbled or mentally challenged for life.

It took Title IX, and a lot of lawsuits to get to where we are today. Sports medicine has made some quantum leaps to help injured athletes. Kids can get back quicker for many injuries. What might have taken months to partially heal can now be handled in weeks. Unfortunately, sports pharmacology also made some strides. Testing has almost caught up and hopefully that error is nearing an end.

Equipment has been improved, technique continues to improve, and the era of laying people out may be coming to a close, too. Some NFL teams have been exposed for putting bounties on certain players. I hope I never see another injury like the one Joe Theismann had. I just Googled his name to check the spelling and came across this little tidbit in Wikipedia: The injury was voted the NFL’s “Most Shocking Moment in History” by viewers in an ESPN poll, and the tackle was dubbed “The Hit That No One Who Saw It Can Ever Forget” by The Washington Post. Theismann’s career ended on Nov. 18, 1985 when he suffered a comminuted compound fracture of his leg while being sacked by New York Giants linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson during a Monday Night Football game telecast.

It was a terrible thing. I don’t remember if I watched the game or saw it afterwards, but it was nasty.

by: SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John BrewingtonThere also are fewer deaths from lack of hydration these days and injuries are treated better. Girls can play sports these days and compete just as hard as the boys. They suffer injuries, too, and also come back from them.

Yeah, the old geezer remembers the good old days, but as Billy Joel said in a song: ‘Cause the good ole days weren’t always good and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.

I just went to a reunion this past weekend. Funny thing, we started acting like were back in school again. But the experiences we shared and the things we did keeps us still close. The consensus was that we grew up in a small community in a good time. It was never like Leave It To Beaver for any of us, but we learned to deal with adversity, death, and a hundred other things. It made us stronger and after all these years we can still care for each other.