Remember when two-a-days in the blistering August heat signaled the return of high school football in Texas?
What was once a right of passage is facing extinction and the UIL, the governing body for all public school sports in the Lone Star State, all but made it official this season with a series of practice restrictions due to rising health concerns stemming from last summer's record temperatures.
The UIL did away with consecutive two-a-days and put a time cap of three hours on every practice period.
Though the restrictions were just put into place this summer, two-a-days have been falling out of style with many area programs for years. The rise of spring ball, off-season conditioning and weight training, and 7-on-7 tournaments, have ensured that athletes are in tip-top shape and have a firm grasp of the playbook.
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Most area coaches said the new restrictions had little effect if any on how they are preparing for the upcoming season, which kicks off Aug. 30.
"Honestly, we've never been a team that stays on the field a long period of time," Southlake Carroll coach Hal Wasson said.
"We are a big believer in the mental approach and we haven't done the old fashioned two-a-days for a couple of years now. It's been business as usual for us this season and our kids choose to come into camp in good condition."
Another reason for the decline of two-a-days is the logistical problem it presents for some programs.
"We haven't done two-a-days in years," Euless Trinity coach Steve Lineweaver said. "A lot of our kids don't have transportation.
"They can get up there once but to ask them to go back home and come back again when both parents are working and they don't have a ride is too much."
Most of the coaches interviewed hinted that the new restrictions were ineffective but Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said that the restrictions have had the opposite effect of what the UIL intended.
"This year because of the restrictions we've been out there about 21/2 hours straight and I think our kids are more fatigued and more drained than they were last season," Buchanan said. "Basically we practiced about the same number of minutes but were not allowed to give them a big break in the middle. I'm not sure we [the UIL] accomplished anything with what we did this year."
The days of coaches withholding water as a way of building character and toughness are long gone.
Most programs have processes in place to ensure that the teenagers clad in 25-30 pounds of pads engaging in habitual high speed collisions are as relatively safe as can be.
"We have 20 student trainers and two full-time trainers at our practice every day," Mansfield coach Jeff Hulme said.
"We have Gatorade bottles at every station and our kids can get water anytime they need it. I remember when I played, we had water during the middle of practice and it was out of a PVC pipe connected to a water hose."
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760