Hot weather has been the big news this first week of school and it looks very much like it will continue to make news for a week or more at least. The weather service sees no relief in sight.
Judge Mitch Lundy made news last week when he barred students from participating in outside activities between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. At the request of the school districts involved and the Mississippi High School Activities Association, the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the temporary restraining order issued by Judge Lundy. The reason given by the high court was that the order had not been requested.
Regardless of the legal maneuvering and “turf defending” now is the time to be careful with students where outside activities are concerned. I, regretfully, am one voice of experience on this subject.
Approximately 36 years ago the very first football team was started in Southaven – now the second largest city in the state according to estimated population by the Southaven mayor’s office. At the time I was principal of Southaven Junior High School and had employed a young man to teach and coach football. Since he was the only person working with football I agreed to help with the program after school.
The first day the boys came for practice was very hot and we decided we would do a few exercises. We told the boys to change into gym shorts. As they got into the shorts they came outside to wait. A young boy, approximately 14, told me “My head is hurting very bad.” Thinking it was nerves I told him to sit down in the shade and lean his head back on the building. In about two or three minutes I asked him was he feeling better. He did not answer and I observed his eyes were not focused and either he could not speak or wasn’t.
Asking some teachers to watch the boys I told the coach to put him in the back seat of my car and to get in beside him. After about two miles I looked and knew something was bad wrong. I asked the coach if he could detect a pulse and he said he could not. We were met outside by a doctor who soon pronounced him “dead on arrival.”
It is not the easiest task in the world to go tell a mother that the son she sent to school that morning would not be coming home. That became my duty. It is an experience I will never forget. The story becomes vivid each year at the beginning of football.
We found out that the child died of a ruptured aneurism which probably had nothing to do with football or the heat. But it is very hard to put a situation like this behind you and move on. This is perhaps why I am not as “turf conscious” as some. I only want what is in the best interest of each student enrolled in our schools. Yes, I was interviewed many times by Memphis television stations but I can imagine I looked and sounded a little different than some of the interviews I saw regarding the temporary restraining order.
Billy McCord is a retired school administrator and an Elder in the United Methodist Church. He is Pastor of the Shady Grove UM Church in Calhoun County. and a member of the Calhoun County School Board. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org