Another Asphalt Bear Crawl Incident Sparks Controversy

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For the second time in less than a week, reports of football players doing bear crawls on hot asphalt has generated injury and controversy.

Last week, AB Today reported on administrative reaction to complaints that a coach at Douglas (Ala.) High School forced student-athletes to bear crawl across hot asphalt, resulting in the circulation of photos depicting injuries to the participants' hands. Meanwhile in Texas, San Antonio's KENS 5 reported Monday that an employee at McDowell Middle School has been "disciplined accordingly" after forcing student-athletes to do bear crawls on asphalt. The athletes had been doing the exercise for about five minutes when a coach exited the school and brought the drill to a stop around 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Related: Superintendent Backs Coach's Right to Discipline Players

One parent claimed she had to purchase first aid kit to treat injuries to her son's hands, while another parent whose son graduated last year from the Hondo Independent School District, of which McDowell is a part, saw nothing wrong with the bear crawl concept. "Why is this a big deal now?" she asked KENS 5. "Our kids have always come home with blisters on their hands from bear crawls in the heat."

She added that while her son didn't do bear crawls on asphalt, it's part of the game. "It is part of Texas football. Clean it up and get it over with. You are going to have practice the next day."

Hondo ISD superintendent Dr. A'Lann Truelock told KENS 5 that bear crawk drills are typically conducted in the gymnasium, but that the gym was occupied Friday by a dance.

A letter to parents dated Monday and signed by Hondo Independent School District athletic director Brett Ratliff and McDowell Middle School principal Virginia CuellarHernandez stated, in part, "During the period, a McDowell Middle School coach and a teacher volunteer, ran students through calisthenics and drills. One of the drills, a common exercise executed by middle school athletes known as a ‘bear crawl' was used as part of the workout. Due to the hot temperature and the rough surface on which the exercise was executed, some students received scrapes, cuts, and blisters on their hands.

"McDowell Administration and the HISD athletic department were made immediately aware of the issue and took steps to notify parents through the Remind App and address concerns. The district has responded with the upmost seriousness and measures have been taken to rectify the situation. The HISD Athletic Department has met to discuss the issue and reemphasizes the fact that the health an safety of our students is a top priority."

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