MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The thought of protecting football players from the summer heat may have been mocked back in the day but things have changed.
The TSSAA continues to push forward in this effort with its most recent heat policy.
“It limits the amount of time we’re outside,” Houston High athletic trainer Tripp Turner said. “Certain conditions apply to what equipment we can wear and that type thing. Mandated breaks for water and that type thing. It’s going to be an adjustment for some.”
Turner said heat illness, which can lead to heat strokes, is a real threat. There are some precautions that can be taken, though.
“Heat illness is a hundred percent preventable,” he said. “That’s one thing that is very easily remedied if you have someone out there that’s experienced. That recognizes what’s going on early.”
Some of the new rules from the TSSAA include limiting practice to two hours if the heat index is between 95 to 99 degrees. Players can only wear helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts at this time.
Practice is limited to one hour should the heat index land between 100 and 104 degrees. No protective gear can be worn at this point.
Outdoor practices can’t happen if it’s over 105.
Even game days are impacted. Games must be postponed at this level unless there is a qualified health care professional on-site with rapid cooling methods.
According to Turner, this is where some schools in the area may be impacted the most.
“Because we are unique there’s not a whole lot of us, he said. There is a financial burden that goes with that. Not every school system can afford the salary.
A cooling method that Houston has on-site is a tub that players can sit in when filled with ice.
“Several states have mandated it,” he said. “We haven’t but it’s a very cost-effective and very preventive thing that can be done real easily.”
Turner said schools should invest in these tubs. He says this is just one part in helping avoid heat-related deaths that have impacted football at all levels.
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