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Official says some high school athletes overeating to dangerous levels

Official says some high school athletes overeating to dangerous levels



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We've known for a long time that some high school football players will overeat so they can pack on a few pounds. But state officials say this practice is being used to a dangerous level.

To show me how big some of his linemen are, Bingham High School Head Football Coach David Peck asked me what may seem like a very personal question.

"There are some guys down there that I guarantee are bigger than you," he told me. Then he asked, "Are you over 300 [pounds]?" When I said, "No," he said, "We've got a couple guys over 300 down there."

Peck says players are definitely getting bigger, but are they too big? He says that depends on the player. Some of these kids are just big.

"Our linemen, there's no doubt they're trying to, in most cases, they're trying to put on some weight," Peck said. "We've had some cases where we've asked the kids to lose some weight."

Peck says some players may confuse size with ability, but it's not always that simple.

"We don't care how big you are. It's more about how you move and how you play the game. I'll take the good, speed athlete any time over just the big kid that doesn't go out and make a lot of plays," he said.

But some Utah high school officials say obesity in football players is getting worse.

Utah High School Activities Association Assistant Director Bart Thompson said, "It's something that's becoming more alarming and has come to the attention of the National Federation of State High School Associations." Thompson says it's not uncommon for linemen to overeat so they'd be harder to push around.

"There seems to be active encouragement of kids to be obese because there seems to be a competitive advantage," he said.

But state officials have to be careful what kind of regulations they put on a player's weight. They could put a weight limit on players, but there could be some problems with that idea.

"Do we really want to regulate or put a weight limit that excludes those kids from being able to play when that might be the only exercise they do get," Thompson said.

Thompson says the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee of the National Federation of State High School Associations will meet again in April to see what kind of rules it could establish that could help with this problem.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

Paul Nelson

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