Archive for Thursday, August 9, 2001

When things heat up, players should cool off

August 9, 2001

Because of the recent tragedy that struck the NFL, football players and coaches across the nation are re-evaluating their workouts in the summer months.

When Minnesota's all-pro lineman Korey Stringer died from heat exhaustion last week at preseason camp, eyes around the nation, including right here in the De Soto area, opened a little wider.

"It definitely raises awareness," Mill Valley coach George Radell said. "When you think about all the high school teams out there, some with one trainer and some with no trainers, and then compare that to the NFL where the player to trainer ratio is much better, it's crazy to think that they could still lose a player."

Radell said the tragedy was a real eye-opener for him and while he doesn't anticipate changing the style of his practices, he will likely look a little more closely at the players and their conditions.

"We kind of monitor it ourselves and keep an eye on them," Radell said. "I tell the team and I stress this that I don't think any less of a kid that says, 'coach I'm feeling dizzy.'"

Stringer's death, although rare, is not an isolated incident in recent times. Since 1995, 18 athletes have died because of heat exhaustion or related issues, and Radell said being aware is the key to preventing it.

The autopsy performed on Stringer will not be released for a few days, if ever, but doctors who tried to revive him which included 15 at one time said Stringer's body temperature had reached as high as 108.8 degrees, more than 10 degrees above normal body temperature.

In Kansas, where the heat and humidity are notorious for causing health problems, it is extremely important to monitor players at practices. Radell said there must be some way for the players' body temperatures to be monitored a little more closely. Wearing an adhesive thermometer in a comfortable and convenient spot was one suggestion Radell had.

"With aquariums and such they have those strip thermometers that reflect the water temperature," Radell said. "So certainly they could make something adhesive that a player could wear to tell how hot he is."

Suggestions like Radell's, along with many others, will likely come following such a tragedy. For now, however, the only way to effectively monitor the situation is by watching carefully and making sure each player gets plenty of water and rest. Radell said he is more than happy to do that.

"We've always encouraged players to tell us if they're feeling bad so we can get them a break," Radell said.

Practices for all high school sports, including football, will get underway on Monday, Aug. 13, and because of the Korey Stringer incident, this year's practices will be watched a little more closely.

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