This year marks the 100th anniversary of 4-H clubs being known as 4-H.
The movement to better connect public school education with farming life had started under other names in Ohio and Minnesota 10 years earlier.
For you city folk who aren't familiar with 4-H, the H's stand for Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. With 60 million alumni nationwide, 4-H has meant nothing but good things for rural youth.
This autumn, however, those same 4Hs haven't had such a positive connotation in sports.
HEAD – The journal Neurology last month published a study which showed retired NFL football players were far more likely to be afflicted with Alzheimer's, Lou Gehrig's (ALS), and Parkinson's diseases than members of the general public. Specifically, they were four times more likely to get Lou Gehrig's disease.
Other studies have shown a frequency as high as eight times normal among ex-NFLers. Left largely unreported in the anti-football fever, though, was the fact studies of retired elite Italian soccer players have shown their incidence of ALS to be 6.5 to 11.6 times greater than normal.
HEART – On Friday night, 320-pound defensive tackle Ronald Rouse of Hartsville (South Carolina) High School called timeout and started walking to the sideline. Before he could get there, he collapsed.
Upon regaining consciousness, he was assisted to the sideline but collapsed again and this time could not be revived despite the best efforts of three physicians and two athletic trainers, which included the use of an AED.
An autopsy on Saturday revealed what the local coroner described as a congenitally enlarged heart. Many will blame football for this death but it could just as easily have occurred on a soccer field, track, or basketball floor. The culprit wasn't a particular sport but the enlarged heart. In fact, the risk of death from an enlarged heart in a team sport is greatest in basketball.
HANDS – Perhaps one reason the Bears' offense wasn't more productive Sunday was the absence of Earl Bennett. The wide receiver missed his second game in a row with a “hand injury.”
After practicing last week, Bennett had indicated he planned to play. Still, it's no mystery his position literally requires perfect hands. Meanwhile, how the unspecified hand became imperfect and the exact nature of the injury remain total mysteries.
HEALTH – Reds manager Dusty Baker is back with his team just in time for the playoffs after suffering an irregular heart beat followed within days by a mini-stroke in Chicago last month.
Ironically, it was while Baker was being released from the hospital for the heart issue that he suffered the stroke. For now, his physicians have given him a clean bill of health.
Unfortunately, Colts' head coach Chuck Pagano's physicians can not say the same about their patient. Diagnosed last week with acute myeloid leukemia, Pagano's prognosis is unclear and he will be hospitalized for at least six weeks.
If Pagano, 51, has anything to be thankful for, it is an observant and caring wife. Tina Pagano noticed unusual bruising on her husband and insisted he seek medical care.
John Doherty is a certified athletic trainer and licensed physical therapist and certified athletic trainer. This column reflects solely his opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JDohertyATCPT.