Viewpoint: Protect athletes in extreme weather

Two Georgia high school football players died this summer following practices, including 16-year old D. J. Searcy from Fitzgerald.

His parents say coaches didn't do enough to prevent his death. We aren't sure if that's true. We are sure it's time for the state to do more to keep young athletes safe.

The Georgia High School Association's heat policy isn't much of a policy at all. The association simply requires each school system to set its own policy about when it's too hot for students to be on the field. That's not good enough.

Some states go so far as to require tubs with cold water on site during hot practices so athletes can take ice baths. Many states have uniform policies that mandate water breaks and limit practices in extreme heat, rather than a hodge-podge of rules that may or may not offer protection for kids.

The GHSA is waiting for results of in-depth research by the University of Georgia on the heat's effects on young athletes. But how many teens may be put in danger while we wait? The association should put a task force together immediately to come up with a new policy before next summer.

If they won't act, the General Assembly should. Someone must stand up to protect our young people before others die.