“Gatorade Grandpa” Fighting Clawson Mavericks Beverage Ban

“Gatorade Grandpa” Fighting Clawson Mavericks Beverage Ban

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept.12, 2018)

Clawson, MI – Jim Martin likes to cheer on his 8 year old grandson Kayden as he plays football with the Clawson Mavericks.  He also likes to treat the boy to a bottle of Gatorade.

“He’s been in football three years,” Martin said.  “That’s been kind of our thing.  I bring him a Gatorade at every practice.”

But that grandfatherly gift must now stop, because the team rules prohibit sports drinks, soda and other flavored beverages, limiting the children to drinking only water while on the field.

The decision to stick with only water has led to Martin becoming the self-proclaimed “Gatorade Grandpa” in defense of his family beverage decision. Martin worked as an athletic trainer for nine years, and believes in the power of sports drinks.

Gatorade is used by some athletes to replenish potassium, sodium and carbohydrates lost during workouts.

But the drinks also contain sweeteners, colors, flavors, citric acid, and sometimes higher than necessary levels of potassium, sodium and calories. Misuse of sports drinks can lead to hypertension and obesity. Multiple studies and articles say Gatorade, Powerade, and other sports drinks are only necessary for athletes who experience extreme exertion and dehydration. The marketing of sports drinks to amateur athletes and youth has also been a controversial subject.

Thomas Windgaston, General Manager of the Clawson Mavericks, sent a letter to parents and guardians regarding the team’s decision.  It noted that the rules were given to families at the beginning of the season.

“The Clawson Mavericks Freshman Football team has determined that

1. Sports drinks are not allowed on the field in which the players will play their games.

2. Sports drinks are not found to be beneficial in hydration effects of youth athletes while conducting practice. As substantiated by a study by Penn State University dated 06 August 2017 titled “The Medical Minute: Water beats Sports Drinks for Young Athletes”, and the American Academy of Pediatrics 30 May 2011 in a study titled “Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are they Appropriate?”

The letter further states “In order to be able to provide the best atmosphere, coaching, mentorship and learning environment The Clawson Maverick Freshman Football team will use only water during practices and games.”

Windgasten also spoke with Oakland County Times about the decision.  In addition to the reasons given in the letter, he added that as part of their agreement with the city, no such drinks are allowed on the artificial turf field.  “If those things get spilled it can cause staining, and it can attract bees,” he said.

When asked if sports drinks had caused any health concerns, he said “some kids are more hyper and don’t listen as well, but as far as health concerns that hasn’t been an issue.”  He said the water-only policy has been in place for several years, but has only recently become a debate.

“We aren’t depriving kids.  We provide water for the kids all through the practices and the games. Parents can bring water bottles for them also.  There is nothing stopping them from giving their kid a sports drink before or after the game,” he said.

He also noted that parents and guardians agree to the policy when they sign up for the sport.  “There is no right to Gatorade,” he said.

Martin feels as if his rights as a grandfather have been violated.  He also disagrees with the research provided by the team. “For every study you find against Gatorade, there is another that says it is necessary,” he said. One such article was published by Children’s Hospital of Colorado that states “If practice or competition lasts less than one hour, water is the best choice to stay hydrated. If the activity will last longer than one hour or is very intense, a sports drink will help your child stay hydrated, but it will also provide something that water cannot – fuel for his or her working muscles.”

Martin also prefers to give Gatorade because fluids only work if the child drinks them.  “Kids don’t want to drink water,” He said.  “They want to drink something that has flavor to it. If it tastes better they’ll drink more of it.”

Martin says he will be giving Kayden his Gatorade in the car on the ride home, but that he isn’t going to be silent about it.  He even has a meme on Facebook showing himself with his smiling grandson, and the caption “Gatorade Grandpa, one man’s quest for the ultimate hydration.”

“I hate being ‘that guy,’ but I get to decide.  If I think he needs something, I get to decide that, not some coach who thinks he knows what’s best,” Martin said.

The Clawson Mavericks are part of Clawson Youth Sports, which is an independent organization not affiliated with Clawson Schools. Requests for additional comment were not returned, but this story will be updated if necessary.  To learn more visit https://www.clawsonyouthsports.com/

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