Digging Deeper: GHSA responds to extreme heat and practices - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging Deeper: GHSA responds to extreme heat and practices

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A metro Atlanta high school football player also died last night.  He collapsed during practice last week.

The Georgia High School Association told us today they'll request official reports on both deaths and use that information to decide whether they need to modify their rules for practicing in the heat.

Four metro Atlanta schools halted practice from noon to 6:00 today. In Lee County players were on the field but the recent deaths of two high school players from Locust Grove and Fitzgerald were on coaches and trainers minds. With the heat index hovering around 108, players helmets quickly came off, along with pads and shirts and water breaks were frequent.

"We make sure we hydrate them in fact we had a few kids get upset stomachs we've been making them drink so much water out here," said Coach Dean Fabrizio.

Digging deeper we learned Lee County's Certified Athletic Trainer is one of the few here in south Georgia. He says more teams need certified trainers watching players.

"Certified athletic trainer, not just a coach, that they say okay now you're the trainer. They need to have someone that's gone through and taken the national certification exam and become certified," said Bryan Davis, Lee County High School Certified Athletic Trainer.

The Georgia High School Association agrees, and says legislation requiring certified trainers has been considered before, but with tight school budgets, it hasn't happened. They say other provisions like a written policy when practices should be modified is a requirement for each school system and helps protect students.

"When the heat index reaches a certain level they change the ratio of workout time to rest and hydration, time so if they start out normally at 30 minutes to 10 minutes of rest and water if when it gets above another level they may go 20 and 20," said Ralph Swearngin, GHSA Executive Director.

As for moving back the start of football season in hopes of cooler temperatures for players, a study by the GHSA found little difference starting August first or September first.

"The mean temperature average throughout the state taken at various levels different paces was about 1.5 or 1.7 degrees hotter in August than September," said Swearngin.

It's not convincing enough for a recommended change. The GHSA wants parents to talk to their student athletes and encourage them to let them know if policies aren't followed or if they having medical problems at practice and say it should be brought to the schools attention.

The GHSA expects to discuss the issue of heat and players at their executive committee meeting in two weeks.

They plan to look at the policy and talk about whether changes need to be made.

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