Tuesday, March 20, 2012
No matter how you slice it, for March, it's hot. Now imagine how it might feel when high school football players start practice in August. Can't say it's something I would like to think about, and the Georgia High School Association agrees.
After a fifteen year study showed Georgia is worst in the nation in heat-related athlete deaths, change is on the way.
For the first time in state history, the association is limiting practice time.
Starting this summer (per the AJC):
- Each player must participate in five days of practices in only helmets, t-shirts and shorts before going to pads in August. These practices without pads, which may begin no sooner than July 25, are limited to two hours.
- Practice in pads, which may begin Aug. 1, are limited to three hours.
- Three-a-day preseason practices are banned, and two-a-day practices cannot take place on consecutive days or exceed a total of five hours in a single day.
- All schools must use wet-bulb temperatures, and not heat index, to determine when excessive heat and humidity call for limiting or canceling practices.
For coaches trying to think about safety while also staying competitive, a statewide rule is a welcome change.
ARC Head Coach Chris Hughes said, "It's something we think about and worry about every year when we go out there in August, and this year with the heat already, we're dreading that August is going to be really bad. So, I'm thinking it will level the playing field as long as everyone follows that procedure and doesn't try to deviate and follow their own rules."
Schools violating the new regulations face fines of up to $1,000.