News Sports

Beating the heat a key for summer preparations

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to talk with or visit every high school football team within our coverage area. The headlining factor of each team has been the same — the excessive heat that our area has seen within the last few weeks.
Heat-related injuries and in some cases deaths, have been reported from football teams around the country. The heat creates harsh environments for practices.
Even though most teams have dropped the pads for summer practice and conditioning, heat still puts a number of players into submission.
Heat exhaustion is a regular occurrence, heat strokes are a concerning factor and other heat-related incidences are fought against.
As I made my way to Escambia Academy last week, I noticed the precautions that were being taken by head coach Hugh Fountain. Water breaks were taken every few minutes, and the coach was constantly checking his players. Misting stands were turned on at full blast and were not only enjoyed by the players, but the coaching staff as well.
Despite the precautions that were taken, a few players still went down due to the heat. Cramping, vomiting and stomach aches will all make their presence over the course of the next few months until the weather changes and the humidity and heat are replaced by cooler air.
During that time, the first games of the season will be underway, and area football teams will experience the heat at its worst.
The question that I have been asking myself lately, is why the heat is affecting players much more in the present time than in past years.
To answer this, I resorted to my other love, history. Throughout history early teams were more used to the heat.
Granted they didn’t use the state-of-the-art equipment with which players are now outfitted, but they were not spending the majority of their days under the air conditioner.
Today the air conditioner is taken for granted. Every home, business and school are outfitted with them, and the vehicles we drive feature air conditioners that would push Santa Claus into hibernation.
As players make the transition from the comfort of an air-conditioned locker room onto the field, the heat can creep in with surprising speed.
The measures that can be taken by a team to prevent heat exhaustion are simple: Properly warm up before practice or physical activity to get blood flowing and to help prevent cramping, eat proper meals, hydrate as much as possible to replace water and salt loss, and take proper cool-down breaks.
As teams continue to fight the heat, I pray that everyone has a safe transition into the start of another great football season in our area.