Written by Juston Lewis, Staff Writer
Every summer, athletes in the south are subjected to practices in scorching temperatures. These temperatures range anywhere from the high 90s to the low 100s, and can be detrimental to the health of the players. The symptoms include confusion, dizziness and fainting. What makes matters even worse, players often do not realize these symptoms until it is too late.
A study showed that 31 high school football players died of heat stroke complications between 1995 and 2009. That same study showed that 64 percent of athletes that had heat related illnesses were overweight or obese. It is not fair to put student athletes who can be well over 250 pounds through gruesome practices in the middle of the summer.
Being in the heat is not just dangerous for athletes, coaches are also at risk for heat illnesses as well. Most coaches have come under heat rashes, heat exhaustion or heat syncope which occurs with prolonged standing or sudden rising from sitting position. If a player or a coach is not hydrated they are at an even higher risk for one of these episodes.
Hydration is a major key to avoiding heat related illness. Unfortunately, most athletes do not stay hydrated. According to the Southwest Athletic Trainers’ Association, two out of every three athletes come to practice without proper hydration. This leads to heat cramps which are an early signs of heat exhaustion.
With all of these dangers most coaches still do not cancel or relocate practices indoors. In many cases they are not held accountable for players that are injured under their care. That is because it is the call of the director of sports medicine or head athletic trainers to officially call off any practice or game. There are several tests to measure the heat index but in all honesty it comes down to a common sense.
More coaches need to step up and take care of their players rather than just being concerned with their personal agenda of winning. If a player becomes ill and dies, then nobody wins. Coaches should be concerned for their players health and find a balance of getting them acclimated to high heat and making sure they are not at any risk. Sports are already dangerous enough, there’s no need to put young athletes at an even greater risk.
A national policy needs to be put into place to protect players from heat illnesses. If policies can be made for head trauma, then policies should be made to prevent heat related injuries.