Have you seen the map of the United States with the flu reports on it lately? Every state is red. That means there is a wide outbreak of influenza in every state. According to several reports, this is the first time this has happened since they began recording such data.

A H3N2 is the technical name for this nasty outbreak of the flu. This is not an informational editorial about this illness. This is a community service announcement about common sense when it comes to being a high school athlete and dealing with illness.

I vividly remember a conversation I heard several years ago. A mother of a basketball standout was so proud of her son for “gutting it out” and showing up at school and the game that night to play. For a young man who looked as pale as a ghost and was sweating profusely the second he came out of the locker room for the pregame warm-ups, he actually played quite well. Was this young man’s perseverance to be applauded?

Three days later three other starters were out with severe cases of the flu. The team was down to its junior varsity players because illness was running rampant through the team.

Thirty years ago I heard of a female athlete who came to school with a few chicken pox on her arms. No big deal, right? Wrong. Within 48 hours the school was shut down for two days because over half the K-12 students came down with chicken pox.

This is one of those common-sense situations for both parents and student-athletes. I love the desire and loyalty that I see in athletes who are willing to look past a few aches and pains to play in a game. But when it comes to infecting a large group of students with illness then admiration turns to frustration.

Please remember this. High school athletes are some of the fittest human beings on earth. They are young, most are in good shape, and most take care of themselves. Just because one of these people can play through illness without passing out doesn’t mean there aren’t young children and older school employees who do not have the immunity against such illnesses.

So here comes the common-sense lesson. If your child has a fever of 100 or higher, they are contagious. They may not feel like they are overly sick, but they are carrying germs that may have a profound effect on other people they come in contact with.

If a few spots break out due to measles or chicken pox, visit a doctor and stay away from school until an official diagnosis can be made.

I think back to long bus rides to and from basketball games during the peaks of past flu seasons. There would be coughing and hacking and people would be complaining about headaches and body aches. It is a wonder that more students didn’t get sick during these outbreaks.

Sometimes good parenting doesn’t always mean making sure your child is in school or at their school activities. Sometimes it just comes down to using some good old common sense.

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