Coaches, nowadays, have more to worry about than the typical X's and O's.

Now, they must make sure all players have completed concussion baseline testing and turned in the proper forms in order to start the season. And, they undergo special training to diagnose the symptoms of a concussion. I think it is great that coaches are educated on the signs of a concussion, but I remember a time not too long ago when it was up to the player to tell the coach that they felt concussed.

I still think back to one Friday night during my football career when we, Clinton, were at Ayer Shirley and our middle linebacker collided head-to-head with a Panther kick-returner.

My teammate had his bell rung so bad that he stumbled over to the Ayer Shirley bench, sat down and took off his helmet. It was funny to me at the time when we hustled over and brought him back to our sideline. The EMTs looked him over and let him rest a bit. A couple series later, he was back in the game. Unfortunately, that's just the way it was.

Long gone are the days of when a coach could tell a player to 'walk it off,' if they felt they were hurt.

There is a difference between tired and not being properly hydrated for a hot and humid day such as some of the ones we have experienced this week.

Too many times in my two years as a journalist have I seen players complain to their coaches that they are "dehydrated or feel dizzy." It's called being out of shape. It is as simple as that.


Pardon me if I sound like your grandfather: Back in my day, you did not take a water break until the coach said you took a water break. There were few, if any, water bottles scattering the sidelines.

There were two large Gatorade coolers that the freshmen hauled out and placed on a rickety stand built from old factory pallets.

You stuck your mouth underneath it and drank.

If your teammate dropped the football, the entire offensive unit would run a lap. I see a lack of discipline among players as a whole. My high school did not give its athletes access to the weight room over the summer or after school hours, unless it was used by a team.

The responsibility was placed on the athletes to join the local gym in the middle of town and get in shape for the start of their particular sport.

If you came into practice out of shape, it was nobody's fault but your own. Trust me, I was no stud athlete who did all the things right.

If I was, chances are I probably wouldn't be writing this column.

But, I worked my tail off and did what the coaches told me.

Some teenage athletes will say anything to get out of working hard.

It seems like as the years tick by, kids start to feel more-and-more entitled. There is no feeling of 'I did it because I earned it.' Kids would rather sit on their IPhone, snapchat their friends than run wind sprints at practice.

Sports are meant to be fun. Conditioning is, well, let's face it ... not. It is a necessary beast that everyone, not just athletes, should tame.

Many of the life lessons I learned came on the football field or on the wrestling mat.

The ones I carried into the gym or on the field came from my late father, who was a living breathing example of a hardworking American.

Twelve-years-ago, I was 13-years-old and wanted a desktop computer that I did not have to share with my older sister. I told my father, and he responded with "If you want that computer so bad, you will earn it."

So, I went out and walked around town collecting bottles and cans. He would drive me to the redemption center and I would put that cash in the bank.

I saved up $200 and he spotted me the rest because I worked for it. Coaches know when you are taking a play off or you don't want to work. You're not only cheating yourself, but you are cheating your teammates.

So, the next time you feel tired at practice and want a break, take a look at the guys/girls next to you, if they're still battling through the rigors of practice, you should, too.

Your teammates will respect you, and so will your coach.

Playing sports is a luxury. Playing time is not guaranteed. It is earned.

Follow Ed Niser on Twitter/Tout:@EdNiser