An informational presentation was held for Warwick Valley High School and Middle School varsity, junior varsity and modified baseball players on Wed., Mar. 29 in the WVHS media center. Students on all of these baseball teams learned about the dangers of chewing tobacco. The use of tobacco – especially chewing tobacco – has been a part of baseball culture for many decades. In the “old days,” players were even seen with cigarettes and chewing tobacco on the playing field.
Times have changed. Now, tobacco use is clearly linked to serious illness and death from cancer. After an introduction by Warwick Athletic Director and Coach Greg Sirico, student-athletes viewed a video about the late Major League baseball player, Tony Gwynn, whose death was the result of oral cancer caused by years of using chewing tobacco, also known as smokeless tobacco.
Student-athletes then heard presentations about the harmful effects of smokeless tobacco from several Warwick coaches and athletic trainers including: Greg Sirico; Dennis McLaughlin, assistant varsity coach, former Warwick baseball player (Class of 1991) and former member of the MLB Boston Red Sox organization; Sue Abel, WVCSD Athletic Trainer; Eric Rosa, WVHS physical education teacher and junior varsity gold baseball coach; and Chuck Todd, varsity baseball coach and former member of the MLB Cleveland Indians organization.
Each coach emphasized the same important message for the student-athletes: the smartest way to avoid these health dangers is to not start using chewing tobacco. And if you already chew it, quit as soon as possible.
Abel showed a PowerPoint presentation about the dangerous and deadly health effects of chewing tobacco, including information about: how addictive chewing tobacco is, the poisonous ingredients in chewing tobacco, and the different types of oral cancer caused by chewing tobacco. Now that the harmful effects of tobacco use are well known and documented, some new regulations in the world of baseball have been put into place.
The session concluded with information from the WVCSD Code of Conduct about the penalties of tobacco or chewing tobacco use on school property or while participating in school athletics, which include suspension from school.