The grueling training of college sports can make men out of boys. But many coaches push their student athletes so hard, especially in extreme conditions, that they are jeopardizing the players’ lives. New workout guidelines, developed by health and sports professionals, aim to counter the dangerous lack of regulation surrounding the extreme conditions of certain workouts.
Since 2000, 21 college football players have died during conditioning workouts.
The death of these student athletes "generally occurred with excessive exercise under the direction of a coach, often in extreme conditions, and in some cases with staff inadequately prepared to deal with the emergency in a timely or appropriate fashion," Dr. Jolie Holschen, co-author of the new guidelines, told CBS.
Conditioning sessions are usually run between January and June or July, and include lifting weights, running sprints and endurance exercises. The most common causes of the 21 football deaths during conditioning workouts were heart conditions, heat stroke, and a genetic trait related to sickle cell anemia.
Games and regular practices, which have greater oversight and more safeguards in place, have seen no deaths of top-level college football players between 2000 and 2011.
The new guidelines focus on several areas, including working up to maximum intensity rather than jumping in full force. Coaches will be required to be better trained to monitor health and safety issues, and handle first aid or resuscitation in case of an injury or emergency. They will also be expected to attend all of the conditioning sessions.
Most importantly, the guidelines counter the long-held belief in some circles that working athletes longer and harder will always produce better results. Safety no longer has to sit on the bench for college sports.