We assume that athletes are motivated to perform at a high level. We hope that they will make decisions that will increase the likelihood of their being successful on the field. They all know that there are certain things that are bad for them.
Smoking = bad!
Drugs = bad!
Alcohol = bad!
All athletes know the above list is bad for them, right? And they would never partake in any of these activities because they are highly motivated athletes, right? We have no doubt that kids will choose the healthy options, especially our athletes, right?
Well we all know better and that all kids, including athletes, will fall victim to all the same temptations that earlier generations did. Now we have to add another threat to the health of our athletes.
Vaping = bad!
Not too long ago the idea of vaping or e-cigarettes were seen as a positive because it was a tool that people could use to ween themselves off of cigarettes. Another angle was that it was going to be a more socially acceptable way for people to continue using nicotine without all the stigmas that have come to be associated with smoking cigarettes. Well, just like a lot of other things that start off with the potential for some positive outcomes, there are always darker possibilities waiting in the wings.
Why would vaping companies create a product that has over 8,000 possible flavors? Because they know it will appeal to young people. And why is the warning that these products contain nicotine, an addictive chemical, shown in the fine print and at the end of the commercials? Because they know most young people have already lost interest in the fine print and have adsorbed the big message at the beginning.
Several recent studies show that more than 40 percent of all high school kids are vaping or have at least tried vaping. Of that 40 percent, they believe a higher than normal percentage of these kids are athletes.
Why are athletes more susceptible?
They know that vaping is much less likely to be detected. You smell like an ashtray when you smoke, you leave evidence when you smoke and you are much more likely to get caught when you smoke. Vaping leaves a much smaller evidence trail.
And the craziest part – most of these kids don’t even know that what they are doing is bad for them. They don’t know that they are ingesting nicotine. Many of them think it is water with a flavor added. Why? they don’t read the fine print!
They don’t know that they can get addicted to nicotine. They don’t know about the health issues related to blood pressure, asthma or other breathing problems. They don’t know that they are hurting their athletic performance. And they don’t know they can get suspended or dismissed from their teams.
Why do the do it? They’re kids!
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.