I was out the other day for a walk and all of a sudden it hit me that smell, that aroma. Football season is back! I also saw a dad and his boy out throwing the football around. That kind of sealed it the best time of the year is back.
This fact brings back my memories of playing the game that I love, and just how much the game has changed from when I played back in the 70s and 80s (no we didn’t wear leather helmets and the ball was made of pigskin not dinosaur skin). In high school we were at camp for 2 weeks and we had 3 a day’s practices, and if you needed a water break, you were considered soft and out of shape and given a hand-full of salt tablets. Concussions were not really known about. Back then if you got hit hard to the head you were considered to have gotten your bell rung, and as soon as you could tell the coach your name and how many fingers they were holding up, you were good enough to return to playing,and I know that a couple of times I don’t ever remember being asked these questions or answering them, but I watched myself return to the game on film on Monday.
Thankfully things have changed in these two areas for players today. In the area of concussions most schools I have talked to are now using base line testing with their players which gives them the ability to check players that they feel might be suffering from concussion like symptoms against and by the new rules the team knows how long the boy should be held out of contact, and if a boy has 3 concussions in a season they must stop playing football. I feel that this is a great rule as it is felt that the effects of concussions is cumulative and the more you have the worse they are. The only group not doing this in the Albany area is those boys playing pee wee football.
Last year, Georgia lead the nation in football related deaths and the new rules have been enacted to help prevent this from happening again. There is more attention paid to keeping the boys hydrated and not allowing them to practice in temperatures above a certain level to help make sure they are safe. The old days are gone. There are no more three-a-days as they are no longer able to practice more than a set number of times per week.
My concern for these boys is whether there are going to be more injuries early in the season because the boys are not in football shape. Ask anyone who has played the game, there is a difference between being in shape and being in football shape. Only time will tell on this issue.
The other change that I feel is great is that the teams have a trained athletic trainer available to them to evaluate injuries on the side lines instead of the days when I played when the trainer was a kid that could not play, and the coaches were the ones that evaluated injuries during a game.
But I am Rambling. Keep reading to see what sets me off next.
Gene Termunde grew up in Albany and attended Westover high school and graduated in 1976, then went to South Dakota State University till 1980, playing football at both schools. While growing up here, he received my eagle award while being a member of troop 115 and was active with the FFA and other activities. He has married and have three children. He works at The Albany Journal and is an assistant scout master at Troop 3.