Forget crime, drugs, poverty or even gangs. State Senator Earl Garrison has figured out the true enemy of today’s children. According to the Democrat from Muskogee, the heat index is what parents should be concerned about during these days.

Last week Garrison and the Committee on Health and Human Resources approved Senate Bill 451, which would prohibit non-school-related sports programs for kids 13 years or younger from holding practice outside or in non-air-conditioned facilities when the heat index is at or above 95 degrees.

“This bill is about the safety and health of our children,” Garrison said in a press release. “Playing in this type of heat can cause serious injury or even death if there aren’t certified coaches on hand that are trained in medical emergencies.”

I grew up in Oklahoma and participated in at least one sport every year starting in kindergarten. And while a lot of things have change since my days in prep school, what has stayed constant is the heat. I can’t remember a summer day where the heat index was below 95.

If the bill was to actually take effect, you would have to move football and other fall sports into the spring. And still there would be no guarantee of hitting below 95.

What bothers me the most is instead of focusing on the state’s real needs, this bill actually will get voted on.

In the same week a 19-year-old was shot to death in Moore and another teenager was gunned down at a Lawton pep rally, SB 451 was introduced. And amazingly, the heat index is the Senator’s “major concern.”

Every few months someone does something that shows me there are people out there who want to take the backbone out of our children. With this bill, Garrison is saying it’s his turn.

The bill now goes before the Senate. If approved by both legislative bodies and the Governor, SB 451 would go into effect Nov. 1.

“If you have a good athlete, there’s always that vision out there that my child is going to play D-1 football or maybe even in the pros, so I don’t want him to miss a practice and get behind,” Garrison explained. “Then there’s that male chauvinist kind of thing that’s often associated with boys and girls, but especially with boys, that I don’t want my boy being considered a sissy. So I want him out there practicing.”

Whether it’s practicing in the extreme heat or cold, that’s how athletes measure themselves. It’s how they find out if they are tough enough to handle what it takes to be a champion.

Titles are not won in air-conditioned gyms and scholarships are not earned practicing in room-temperature environments.

I know it may sound outdated in an age of metrosexuals, but it comes back down to the basic premise that dealing with adverse conditions teaches children how to be men and women. Garrison and his cohorts want to take that away.

Yes, there is a danger of practicing in hot weather. There also is a peril of stepping out the front door everyday. But does that mean we stop going outside?

I hope not, that is where life happens.

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