Thank goodness for the break in the excessive heat tonight (June 18). High school football athletes were practicing today at 3 p.m. at the Riverside-Brookfield Football Stadium.
I question the adults at the high school and the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) that prepare guidelines and rules concerning summer football practices.
It was 95 degrees with high humidity. The playing surface is synthetic.
Unbiased reports have found surface temperatures of synthetic sports fields to rise to dangerous levels on days with excessive heat.
The U.S. Weather Service had the region under an excessive heat warning.
IHSA has guidelines governing many aspects of summer football activities, for example, the number of days, length of practices, types and number of scrimmages, restrictions on use of protective gear and prohibition of full contact (blocking and tackling).
I enjoyed playing high school football but we were limited to practices starting in August and for no more than three weeks prior to the first September game. Some practices were in the morning at 7 a.m. and some were in the afternoon at 4. Water breaks were frequent. The first weeks of August can be hot in Iowa, but we had the pleasure of playing on natural grass.
I find it worrisome that high school athletes are allowed to practice and scrimmage in excessive heat and particularly on a synthetic playing surface.
RBHS and IHSA please review your policies. Put into place common sense guidelines spelling out clearly when and where hot weather practices can be held.
Football has enough inherent risks. Let’s make sure we are not allowing high school athletes to harm themselves due to excessive heat.