UPDATE Wednesday at 11: School districts are responding to the heat concerns. Cobb, Cherokee, Henry and Decatur have ceased all outdoor practices from noon to 6.
Every high school sports program in the state is probably discussing its summer practice routines now that heat stroke is being cited as a possible reason why two Georgia players died yesterday.
While former high school players contend that they used to practice in the sweltering summer heat, experts counter that temperatures today are higher, air quality is worse and sports are more competitive
According to the AJC:
A 16-year-old Fitzgerald High School defensive lineman died Tuesday morning following practice at a facility in northern Florida.
DJ Searcy, a rising junior, was found unresponsive in his cabin at O’Leno State Park in Columbia County, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. He was taken to a local hospital but resuscitation efforts failed. According to the National Weather Service, the heat index for Lake City, Fla., reached 109 degrees Tuesday.
Searcy’s death came the same day Locust Grove High School center Forest Jones, 16, died after suffering a heat stroke following practice last week.
After a teen football player died in Florida, the Miami Herald ran a story Monday about athletes’ deaths, quoting from the book “Preventing Sudden Death in Sport and Physical Activity.”
According to the Herald story:
Between 1982 and 2009, there were 756 deaths from all causes among high school and college athletes. The vast majority were high school athletes, many of them football players.The book highlights the deficiencies for keeping athletes safe during practices and competition, and offers extensive instruction on how to improve conditions. For example, only about half of all high schools have athletic trainers on staff, usually because of budgetary constraints, according to Douglas Casa, who edited the book, though many schools somehow find the money to pay several football coaches.
As high school football players head back to the fields this August, “that should scare … any parent in America,” Casa said. Casa’s organization, the Korey Stringer Institute, says only one state, New Jersey, follows guidelines for acclimating high school athletes after a summer off. The institute was named for the Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman who collapsed and died of heat stroke in 2001.
With heat illnesses accounting for such a large portion of deaths among high school athletes, no football field should be without a tub of water and bags of ice for emergency cooling this summer, Casa said. Casa, who nearly died of heat stroke while competing in a 1985 high school track championship, offers this broad guideline: “When something feels different, when something feels strange, when something feels out of the ordinary, back down on your intensity.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog