Monday, January 7th, 2013
The question of whether to test high school athletes for performance-enhancing drugs is being debating in a growing number of districts in the wake of doping scandals that have been discovered at a number of schools. More from The New York Times:
At least three state high school associations — in Texas, Illinois and New Jersey — put in programs to test student-athletes. All three programs were operated by Drug Free Sport. The contracts were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
One case that triggered alarm involved Taylor Hooton, 17, of Plano, Tex., whose 2003 suicide widened concerns about high school students’ use of performance-enhancing drugs. Hooton’s father, Don, was among those who lobbied lawmakers for drug-testing programs in high schools.
But a decade later, Don Hooton and others have reversed course, arguing that the programs may provide little benefit to students and society.
“We have a real problem here,” Hooton said of steroid use among high school students. “But we’re not getting at it.”
In 1995, the United States Supreme Court ruled that drug testing for high school athletes was constitutional, and some districts expanded their policies to include middle schools. Proponents of testing at the high school level say that it offers students a way to say no to drugs and that it serves as a deterrent.
But others question the effectiveness of the programs.
In 2007, Dr. Linn Goldberg, head of the division of health promotion and sports medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, published the results of a study of athletes at five high schools that had drug-testing programs and six schools that had deferred enacting a drug-testing policy. Goldberg found that athletes from the two groups did not differ in their alcohol or drug consumption.
Image: Football helmet, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
The seniors on an undefeated Arizona high school football team are working as a team in a unique way–they’re lending advice and support to a special-needs girl who has been the target of bullies because of her health issues. The New York Daily News has more:
A group of kindhearted seniors on Arizona’s Queen Creek High School football team have lent Chy Johnson some tactical defense, helping a girl whose brain disorder once made her an easy target for bullies.
The new friendship started when Elizabeth Johnson, whose daughter said girls threw trash on her at school, contacted starting quarterback Carson Jones.
“I emailed Carson, told him that Chy was having some issues, was just wanting some names,” she told a local television station.
“He took it a step further and went and gathered Chy up at lunch and she’s been eating lunch with them ever since,” Johnson said.
Jones, fellow teammate Tucker Workman and many other Queen Creek Bulldogs have also started looking after Chy throughout the day, a move that has stopped people from bothering her.
“I guess they’ve seen her with us or something,” Jones said.
Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach, was sentenced Tuesday to between 30 and 60 years in prison for his sexual abuse of boys who were enrolled in a football program he led. From CNN.com:
During Tuesday’s hearing, some of Sandusky’s victims addressed the court, while others had statements read by prosecutors, all in an effort to persuade the judge to impose a harsh sentence.
“The pain is real and it will be inside me forever,” said a man identified as Victim No. 5.
He added that he will never forget the image of Sandusky “forcing himself on me and forcing my hand on him.”
Another victim, No. 6., described the “deep wounds” that left him praying for help. “It’s time for you to admit your sins,” he said.
But Sandusky did the opposite.
“I did not do these disgusting acts,” he told the court several times, calling his situation “the worst loss of my life.”
“I will cherish the opportunity to be a candle for others,” he said, adding that “somehow, some way, something good will come out of this.”
Sandusky was convicted in June on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.
Image: Football, via Shutterstock
Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
A high school girl who was nominated to her school’s homecoming court as a nasty prank wound up stealing the show at the homecoming game. From NBC News:
[Whitney] Kropp said last month she was initially surprised to learn that her classmates nominated her to be in the running for her school’s homecoming queen. But she said she soon felt humiliated and betrayed when she found out that it was all a joke.
“People had bullied on me, I guess, for my looks, how I did my hair, how I dress, my height, so I guess they thought, you know, maybe someone that is different is someone that’s an easy target,” Kropp said.
But, Kropp said she pulled through with the support of her mother and the rest of the town.
“You want to protect your kid, and you feel angry and mad at what has happened, but at the same time the outpouring to help her has been beyond expected,” Kropp’s mother Bernice Kropp said.
Word spread quickly through the community of about 2,100 residents in West Branch. Resident Jamie Kline started a Facebook support page, gaining more than 4,000 likes in Michigan and nationwide. Personal stories of bullying and messages of encouragement filled the page.
A salon owner in West Branch donated service to cut, color and style Kropp’s hair, and other local businesses paid for her dinner, gown, shoes and tiara for the dance.
Kropp was greeted with thunderous applause and the flashes of cameras from the home and visiting teams and fans.
Monday, October 1st, 2012
A new book written by a neurosurgeon advises that tackling in football and heading in soccer should not be allowed until children are 14 years old and are showing signs of reaching puberty. The reason for the recommendation is that those practices are believed to cause concussions that can lead to developmental, learning, and other health problems as children grow. From CNN.com:
“If kids don’t have axillary (underarm) or pubic hair, they aren’t ready to play,” said Dr. Robert Cantu, a neurosurgeon at Emerson Hospital in Massachusetts and author of a new book, “Concussion and Our Kids.”
“And I have absolutely no problem with parents who want to hold a child out for longer, say 16 or 18.”
No tackling? No body checking before 14?
Heading a soccer ball before 14 in soccer might be sacrificed — if studies eventually bear out the debatable link to concussion — but tackling and body checking essentially define football and hockey.
In Cantu’s words, “These are sports in which smashing into your opponent isn’t just a possibility — it’s the object of the game.”
And there is some substance behind the argument for waiting until 14, says Cantu, not the least of which is protecting young, developing brains. At 14, he says, several things enhance the body’s ability to protect against head trauma.
Before 14, there is a size disparity between the head and the body, causing what concussion experts call a “bobble-head” effect — the head snaps back dramatically after it is hit.
“Our youngsters have big heads on very weak necks and that combination sets up the brain for greater injury,” said Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine.
However, around age 14, a child’s skull is about 90% the size of an adult’s, and the neck and body are strong enough to steel the head against the force of a blow, according to Cantu. The more developed the neck muscles, the less dramatically the head (and thus the brain) is rocked after a tackle or a body check.
Image: Child with football, via Shutterstock