Thankfully, those days are long gone.
We understand that water isn’t a reward; hydration is a necessity. As is understanding the how these brutal conditions can affect the human body, especially one that’s pushing itself to physical extremes.
It was only 12 years ago that Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer died in Mankato from heat stroke suffered during a day at training camp that was not unlike what we felt on Monday afternoon. That high-profile incident resulted in many changes to the way teams and athletes in all sports train in the heat.
Just look at this year’s training camp. While the Vikings got off easy in terms of hot weather, what the team does on the Blakeslee Stadium practice fields nowadays looks hardly grueling. NFL coaches, including Leslie Frazier, sometimes bemoan the limits the NFL’s latest Collective Bargaining Areement put on training camps. But it’s hard to argue that the practices are safer, smarter and more efficient. Players arrive in tip-top shape, too.
High school and youth athletes don’t have the luxury of a labor agreement with their schools, but they need protection, too.
Fortunately, Monday’s schedule changes showed that we’re on the right track.
Shane Frederick is a Free Press staff writer. Read his blog at mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com and follow him on Twitter @puckato.