• Restrictions in place for football players due to extreme heat


    COBB COUNTY, Ga. - The first high school football games of the season are still weeks away, but practices are underway in the peak of summer’s heat. 

    At Kennesaw’s Harrison High School, practice began this week for the more than one hundred freshman, junior varsity and varsity football players. The air temperature is in the 90s; on the artificial turf field, it’s even hotter.

    “On a day like today, you could easily add an additional 30 degrees to the temperature. There’s no cloud cover it’s direct sunlight,” said Adam Freeman, head athletic trainer for Cobb County Public Schools.

    It’s Freeman’s job along with the coaches to monitor the health of the players, especially in these early season practices. Restrictions are in place for the first week helmets only, no pads.

    “That’s one of the safeguards we put in place several years ago. Because of the heat a five day climatization period all football players before the season starts,” said Freeman.

    Harrison was one of more than twenty schools across the state that participated in a Georgia High School Association (GHSA) and University of Georgia study on how heat affects players.

    They looked at “temperature data, injury data all the way down to doing it by position and class,” said Freeman.

    Three years ago, new standards went into place that govern whether practice can be held outside, how long practice can last, how many breaks teams must take each hour, and whether players can be in full pads.

    It’s not the temperature Freeman monitors, but a combination of the heat and humidity that reveals how efficiently players can cool off. The higher the number, the less room for evaporation and necessary cooling

    “What I have is a device that can take all those factors in and give me a number the wet bulb global temperature,” Freeman said.

    Freeman monitors that number several times an hour, constantly updating coaches.

    It’s all in an effort to keep players safe from the intense summer heat and humidity, “heat illness is the most preventable sports injury out there,” Freeman said.

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