Alabama Coaches Discuss Safety in Sports

It's thought to be the first case of its kind - a Kentucky high school football coach charged with reckless homicide in the death of his 15-year-old player.

Max Gilpin was the victim of what appears to be a heat stroke. He died after his body temperature soared to 107 degrees. Authorities blamed his coach, John Stinson, who they say failed to see the dangers of practicing in such risky conditions. "I was alarmed like most coaches would be," said T.R. Miller head football coach Jamie Riggs.

Riggs is one of more than 600 coaches attending the Alabama Football Coaches Association meeting. Riggs knows first hand what its like to practice in the steamy Alabama summers.  While all the facts aren't clear in the Kentucky case, Riggs says it highlights the grave responsibilities that fall on coaches.  Riggs says, "We understand the liability we are under all the time when we go out to practice and play games."

After hearing details of the Kentucky case, Alabama Coaches Association Director Jack Wood decided to add a discussion about liability and player safety to this year's gathering. He says, "The legal ramifications of where this goes could affect players and coaches from now on."

Wood brought in experts like Matthew Lemak with the National Center for Sports Safety. Lemak says coaches need to know how to react and recognize when a player is in trouble. He says, "You don't want a coach who doesn't know how to respond to these issues. They need to understand them."

Both Wood and Lemak say Alabama is on the cutting edge when it comes to this issue. All coaches in the state are required to know CPR and take a first aid course.