Student-athletes at the Bay Shore school district may have to forgo extra jolts of energy starting in the fall as school officials weigh a ban on highly caffeinated beverages.
Claude Kasman, director of health, physical education and athletics, voiced his concerns at last week’s Board of Education workshop meeting over high school children consuming popular drinks such as 5-hour Energy.
“If you go out to our fields, you’ll find the little 5-Hour Energy \[bottles\] all over the place,” Kasman said.
Kasman said high levels of caffeine have been banned in college-level sports through the National Collegiate Athletic Association and similar steps should be taken at the high school level to protect younger athletes.
School board president Mary Louise Cohen agreed with the proposed ban.
“The athletes are out there exercising, their heart rates are going up and then they’re drinking things that we clearly know are unhealthy,” Cohen said.
The school district does not sell the energy drinks at schools, said Janet Sklar, the district food service director.
A bill was passed in Suffolk in March that banned the sale and distribution of energy drinks to those under the age of 18 in county parks and outlawed marketing of the drinks to minors, said Vanessa Baird-Streeter, spokeswoman for County Executive Steve Bellone. The drinks can be purchased at convenience stores and retailers.
“It’s just so much caffeine involved. For a high school senior to have a cup of coffee in the morning, I don’t have a problem with that, I never have,” Sklar said.
Kasman said keeping these drinks out of the hands of minors is “something really hard to monitor,” but he would push coaches to pay attention and advise their players on their nutritional habits.
The district is also finalizing plans to adapt to new U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for its seven schools, which restrict the amount of fat and sodium levels in drinks and snacks.
“If you push a drink, it’s gotta be water,” Sklar said. “Not even bottled water, just drinking water.”