Sometimes I get really nostalgic, as most people do, and think about how great it was to be a teenager. I had limited responsibilities, no bills, a license to drive and places to go.
Literally my main goal of most days was to learn something and get home without incident; it proved challenging at times, but by the grace of God I made it through, barely. However, I wouldn’t go back for one reason, two-a-day football practices.
Monday is the day when all high school football teams across the state of West Virginia will begin the regular practice period before the season starts. This summer’s weather has been chaotic at best. I bet Tony Cavalier is shopping for hair die at this very moment. We had 40 days and 40 nights of rain followed by a heat and humidity wave that has put that wild look back in the eyes of all the Iraqi war veterans. That’s why they are guarding the recruitment stations; it’s the heat guys, At Ease!
Long gone are the days of coach Bear Bryant, and coaches of today have to abide by a few more rules. Hate me if you want, but some of those rules are very necessary.
This time period during the beginning of August is a risky time for athletes because of the heat but protective rules have been placed to ensure the safety of student athletes. The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC) has set some parameters around sports practices that protect both the athletes and the coaches. All schools are now required to have a written Emergency Action Plan for practice and games to deal with Heat related injury or illness to a student athlete.
The National Federation of State High School Associations says “Exertional heat stroke is the leading cause of preventable death in high school athletics. Exertional heat stroke also results in thousands of emergency room visits and hospitalizations throughout the nation each year.” They urge coaches to form their practices around the concept of pre-season heat acclimatization, and to keep athletes well hydrated. A proper diet does not hurt but hydration is the key to those tough days.
Cramps and fatigue are the beginning signs of heat exhaustion, if unnoticed or ignored symptoms will move into the more serious realm of fainting, nausea, low fever, headaches, and dark urine. Should any of these symptoms occur the initial treatment is to move the person to a cooler location, give them plenty of fluids, apply cool water to the skin, and elevate the legs above heart level. If symptoms do not improve with 30 minutes, or of the internal body temperature reaches 104 degrees immediate medical attention is needed to prevent damage to the brain or internal organs.
Parents can help decrease a child’s chances of heat exhaustion by promoting a diet with potassium and ensuring coaches and trainers have the proper plans in place to prevent these things from happening. Remember it’s only for a short while, we will all have on hoodies before you know it.
I for one can’t wait.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter at the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext.2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)