Personal conduct and how it relates to sportsmanship has been a recurring theme of mine for several months.
As the fall season kicks off with some high school football and volleyball teams going to camps and taking team photos, etc., I’m going to take on another topic — personal responsibility.
What’s the difference? Well, that is a fair question. Personal responsibility and sportsmanship do go together.
However, it is important to note that personal responsibility includes more than sportsmanship. Personal responsibility also plays a key role in day-to-day preparation for practice and games.
Most students start out the school year with a schedule and a list of supplies needed. There’s a separate schedule and lists of dos and don’ts for students who are preparing to play high school athletics. Parents/guardians need to make note of these.
Here’s my personal list:
Get physical, as in a physical exam.
Make sure your student-athlete has an up-to-date physical exam before practice begins. If your student-athlete doesn’t, he or she won’t be able to practice or play.
Many schools now provide a time and site for physical exams as a service for their athletes, but not all do. If your school doesn’t, get the required form and make an appointment with a caregiver who does physical exams. Some parish health units do athletic physicals.
Do the paperwork.
Student-athletes and their families are also required to fill out other Louisiana High School Athletic Association forms, including a student participation form. Make sure to complete all these forms, sign them and return them to the coaches as soon as possible.
Know the rules.
It is the personal responsibility of the student-athlete and their parents/guardians to know and abide by their school’s athletic rules and schedules.
What time does practice begin? When does it end? What time should parents pick up their student-athlete?
Student-athletics should plan to bring whatever extra gear is needed for practice each day. Make sure any shoes, socks, shirts and shorts are ready to go at the beginning of each week and/or every day when needed.
Eat, drink and be ready.
Fall practice, especially in Louisiana’s heat and humidity, calls for the right type of diet. Football players and other athletes usually have fluids made available to them at practice. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids before and after practice. Swimmers and cross country runners should always carry a water bottle and use it.
A diet that includes fruits, vegetables and a balance of grain products is also good. Sodas and junk food intake should be reduced.
Only freshmen are automatically eligible under LHSAA rules. Some school systems require different grade-point averages. Students must also pass a specific number of courses each year to remain eligible.
Know the requirements for your school. Student-athletes who encounter academic issues should ask a coach or guidance counselor sooner rather than later for help.
This is a big one for parents, student-athletes and coaches. We’ve all heard the old saying, “There’s no I in team.” I’ve got another one for you — “Nothing good comes from a negative mindset.”
Yes, there are times when coaches need to get after players to motivate them. Positive reinforcement remains one of the most powerful forces, not only in sports, but in life. Encourage teammates instead of tearing them down.
In turn, it’s not a bad idea for student-athletes to encourage their coaches or at the very least say thank you.
That doesn’t mean taunting opponents and getting overly aggressive to gain an advantage.
Improve your game by working as hard as possible at each practice. Approach each play with the intensity you’d take into the biggest game of the year.
Instead of running at the back of the pack in sprints, move up. Better your 40-yard dash time or the amount of weight lifted. Go for a personal best on an 800 meters or a distance run. Work to swim a better time than your best from 2011 before the 2012 season begins. In other words, don’t get complacent. Be the best you can be.
Those interested in getting involved with Living4Burke, a nonprofit foundation started in honor of the late Burke Cobb should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 14-year-old Cobb, a freshman-to-be at Dutchtown High, died on July 19 following a conditioning workout at the school. A congenital heart defect is suspected to be the cause of death.
Living4Burke is designed to raise funds that will defray costs for cardiovascular screenings that are not part of a traditional athletic physical. These tests are not covered by health insurance.