Business

August 9, 2013

Werner Braun: Football then and now

Watching my son Werner go off to Dalton High School football camp brings back a slew of memories from my days playing football for Cathedral High School in Indianapolis in the late 1950s.

Recently, I began ruminating on the differences between then and now, and I came up with quite a few ways in which the way young athletes play the game has changed.

To begin with, we didn’t go to football camp loaded down with goody bags packed by our moms. We practiced after school on weekdays, with nary a parent in sight.

Brain concussion policy? We have one today, but back in 1959, the attitude was “Is he conscious? Okay, get him back in there.”

Not that that was a good thing. We didn’t have an understanding of what the short- and long-term impacts of brain concussions really were. We had no idea how long it might take to recover from one.

A staff trainer for sports injuries? Nope, just coaches, most of whom would have said, “Put an Ace bandage on it and get back out there!”

Heat index restrictions? What’s a heat index? Back then, the term “heat index” wasn’t even a blip on the meteorologist’s radar screen.

And an irony here is that back in the day, coaches believed that drinking too much water during practice or a game could lead to cramps. So they made us take salt tablets washed down with just a mouthful of water so we wouldn’t cramp up, or so they thought. Go figure.

Contrast that with today when our kids are supplied with specialty hydration drinks and are encouraged to drink water and other fluids throughout practices and games. Let’s all thank goodness for that.

It might have been characteristic of the times, but in my inner-city high school there wasn’t a lot of additional funding for the athletic programs. Consequently, we didn’t have the weight rooms and state-of-the-art equipment that young athletes benefit from today.

In fact, our coaches actually made weights by taking old tin cans of various sizes and filling them up with cement. They sure weren’t elegant, but they worked.

Coaches and players seem to know a lot more about nutrition these days. The boys get Muscle Milk and protein shakes to bulk up, and they seem to be pretty savvy about what their bodies need to take in to be at peak performance. We were all pretty much left on our own. One of my clearest memories is of buying a dozen White Castles from the fast-food joint near our high school to wolf down on the back seat of the city bus on the way home after practice. And those 12 burgers came to a grand sum of 96 cents (no sales tax back then).

Of course, there were other differences as well. Our boys today play on artificial turf, which didn’t exist in our day. Our boys have multiple jerseys — for home and away games — while we had one that had to be washed and ready for the next Friday’s game.

As for classifying divisions — 1A, 2A, 4A, etc. — those distinctions just didn’t exist. It didn’t matter whether you went to a high school with 300 students or one with 3,000, if you were competing in football you played all the teams in your town.

For all the differences, though, there are a great number of similarities. Like our boys today, we had to do the dreaded duck waddle during practice — probably the most horrible drill ever invented!

We had cheerleaders. And they were every bit as cute as the ones who cheer the teams on today.

We knew the thrill of playing in championship games. We packed the stadiums to the gills on game nights, filled with our families, friends and loyal fans.

We revered our coaches. In my high school, our coaches were a bunch of dedicated guys who really emphasized strength of character. I see that same dedication in the coaches of my son’s team, and I see the reverence our young athletes feel for them.

When playing football, you quickly learn that you get back in proportion to what you put in. You learn that bad choices have consequences, that it’s better to make good choices in the first place. You make friends who become friends for life. And despite whether you go on to play later on or hang up your jersey after senior year, you feel the impact of the football experience for the rest of your life.

Football is, in my mind, a metaphor for life. To lead a healthy, successful life, you have to be strong mentally, physically and spiritually. And to play good football, you have to be strong mentally, physically and spiritually.

A lot has changed in the game since I played, but change is a part of life. The carpet industry has changed over the years as well, especially when it comes to production details and advances in technology. But it’s still the same “game,” which requires dedication and strength of character, and each Carpet and Rug Institute “team member” is going for championships of their own every day.

Let the season begin!

Werner Braun is president of the Dalton-based Carpet and Rug Institute.

1
Text Only
Business
  • Metro Dalton’s unemployment rate up to 8.8 percent in May

    The unemployment rate for Metro Dalton — Whitfield and Murray counties — increased to 8.8 percent in May, up from 8.2 percent in April, the Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday.

    June 26, 2014

  • Powells back open 1 mlh.jpg Town Square Cafe carries on Powell’s tradition

    The sign above the door at 116 W. King St. may be different, but many of the faces inside remain the same.
    Jenny Lynch, owner of the Town Square Cafe, said she has retained many of the staff and even some of the recipes from Powell’s Country Kitchen, which had been a downtown Dalton landmark in the building since 1979.

    June 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Region earns ‘manufacturing community’ designation

    Northwest Georgia, including Whitfield and Murray counties, has been chosen as one of 12 regions nationwide that could get federal funds to sustain and expand manufacturing.

    June 1, 2014

  • Siegle, James-ColOR.jpg Synthetic turn pioneer Jim Siegle dies

    He was known as “The Grand Gentleman of Turf.”

    May 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Metro Dalton’s jobless rate falls again

    Metro Dalton’s unemployment rate fell to 8.2 percent in April, down from 8.6 percent in March, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

    May 22, 2014

  • Community & Southern Holdings to acquire Alliance National Bank

    Community & Southern Holdings Inc. said Friday it has reached an agreement to acquire Alliance Bancshares Inc. and its subsidiary, Alliance National Bank.

    May 16, 2014

  • Biz expo '14 2 mlh.jpg At energetic expo, local business owners see signs of economic rebound

    “You give it your all.”
    That’s the biggest lesson Hank Fetzer says he learned after he helped start a business last year with his father Stan. But the importance of having drive, something his father taught him, also meant his father was someone he “didn’t see much” growing up.

    May 1, 2014 4 Photos

  • Carolyn Roan: What are you looking for?

    In my last column, I wrote about how important it is to get pre-qualified for a loan before starting a new home search. If you’re a seller you also need to understand the thought processes that buyers go through when they’re choosing a new home.

    April 25, 2014

  • Feds: home health company paying $150M settlement

    Amedisys Inc., a Baton Rouge-based home health company with operations in Whitfield and Murray counties, will pay $150 million to resolve allegations that it inflated Medicare billings and had improper financial relationships with referring physicians, the U.S. Department of Justice said this week.

    April 24, 2014

  • Metro Dalton’s unemployment rate declines to 8.6 percent in March

    The Georgia Department of Labor said today that Metro Dalton’s unemployment rate decreased to 8.6 percent in March, down from 9.1 percent in February. The rate was 10.4 percent in March a year ago.

    April 24, 2014