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Heat wimps


WHAT A bunch of wimps we're turning into.

If the temperature drops below 70, we break out the sweaters and jackets. If it rises above 80, we wilt and whine like toddlers at nap time.

There are signs, in fact, that we may have reached an evolutionary peak and started heading downhill. Instead of getting stronger to adapt to the elements, we seem to be getting weaker and more dependent on the creature comforts we've created.

This became evident to me as I listened to a caller on a radio sports show while driving to work. The topic was daytime baseball. The caller had been to one Florida Marlins' day game at Joe Robbie Stadium this summer.

"The heat was unbearable," he said. "The Marlins should only play night games."

Better yet, he said, what we need is an air-conditioned stadium.

Even if I felt that way, I would be embarrassed to admit it. Anyone who thinks it is "unbearable" to sit in a baseball stadium wearing shorts and a T-shirt while vendors stroll the aisles selling cold drinks and ice cream should be ashamed of himself.

But we hear a lot of that every year, as if people were somehow surprised that it is hot in the summer.

Even in South Florida, we almost always have a pretty nice breeze.

No, the problem is not that it's too hot -- or too humid. The problem is that we're too used to living in controlled environments. The temperature and humidity are controlled in most of our homes, workplaces and cars. We shop in climate-controlled malls. And so on.

So if we have to go out in the actual sun for any length of time, we act as if we're going to melt. What's even worse is that, by setting such an example, we're also raising a generation of wimps.

According to a physical education teacher at the school where my wife works, parents continually lie or fake doctor's excuses to have their kids excused from strenuous outdoor activities.

As a baseball coach, I continually hear gripes from my players if we have to play or practice on a hot day. After 30 minutes, they're asking to come out for a rest.

I remember playing in that kind of heat for hours on end when I was a kid -- because I enjoyed it, not because someone made me. Of course, hardly anyone had air-conditioning then.

That's not to say my generation is stronger or tougher. The difference is that, unlike today's kids, no one ever told us the heat was unbearable. On the contrary, our parents told us that it was summer and we should go out and enjoy the sunshine.

Unfortunately, a lot of us have forgotten how to do that.

Ray Recchi is a columnist for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

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