With the beginning of another high school sports season approaching, there are always concerns about physical activity in hot and humid conditions. The Michigan High School Athletic Association continues to provide its member schools educational information to assist them in minimizing the possibility of heat-related catastrophic injuries to student-athletes.
The topic of heat-related injuries receives a lot of attention at this time of year, especially when deaths at the professional, collegiate and interscholastic levels of sport occur, and especially since they are all preventable with the proper precautions. In football, data from the National Federation of State High School Associations shows that 29 high school players have died from heat stroke since 1995—four occurring last year.
Each spring the MHSAA provides information to its member schools to help them prepare for hot weather practice and game conditions in the late Summer and early Fall. Football practice can begin at MHSAA member schools on Monday (August 10), followed by all other Fall sports on Wednesday (August 12).
“Heat Stress & Athletic Participation” is information from the National Federation of State High School Associations, which the MHSAA makes available on its website for use by all Fall sports teams. The information points out that student-athletes are subject to a variety of maladies from heat cramps to heat strokes at this time of year. Preventative steps are outlined, including hydration guidelines about what to drink and what not to drink. There are links to the Fall Sports Coaches Preseason Alerts, as well as additional information about hydration and heat illness on the Health & Safety page of the MHSAA Website. A copy of the information is available on the MHSAA Web site – http://www.mhsaa.com/Schools/HealthSafetyResources.aspx.
“Our coaches are so much more aware of hydration and heat issues now, but you can never let your guard down. We cannot emphasize enough that water be available in unlimited quantities at all times during practices,” said John R. Johnson, communications director for the MHSAA. “Additionally, coaching staffs need to be tuned into their student-athletes and be sure they are partaking of water. There is no excuse for any number of heat stroke deaths since they are all preventable. If schools and their student-athletes follow these guidelines, then we minimize the risk for heat-related problems.”
Johnson added that as student-athletes work out on their own individually or with a group of teammates in informal settings during the summer, they also need to be aware of their hydration.