Preventing the heat stroke tragedy

in Sports by
 Sophomore Rachel Taylor and eighth grader Ashley Fitzgerald cool down after cross country practice in an ice bath. Coach Damian Sutton talks to his athletes as they lower their body temperature and relax their muscles after training. (Photo/Olivia Lloyd)

All athletes share one common risk: suffering or even dying from heatstroke. According to the HBO special, Real Sport With Bryant Gumbel, “Since 1995, 47 high school football players have died of heatstroke.” That comes out to nearly two a year, and only from football. The number of fatalities resulting from heatstroke rises even more when Lacrosse, Soccer, Cross Country and other sports are taken into account.

Equally disturbing as the deaths themselves is the fact that all of these deaths were easily preventable. A simple treatment to heatstroke that has proven effective involves the use of a tub filled with ice and water. Dr. Douglas Casa, University of Connecticut professor in the Department of Kinesiology and acclaimed author, has dedicated his work to preventing sudden sports related deaths. He said, “In the more than 2000 cases I’ve tracked, ice tubs have saved those suffering from heat stroke every time.” A solution so easily implemented and very inexpensive makes those 47 devastating deaths that much worse. To put an end to heat stroke related deaths, the presence of an ice bath on the field should be enforced in high schools around the country.

More importantly, having an ice bath present during any outdoor sporting event should be made mandatory at American Heritage. Located in South Florida, our athletes practice and compete in grueling heat all year round. Practicing in the hot sun isn’t easy, especially when you are being pushed to the level of Heritage athletics. Our school has consistently dominant programs whether it’s our football team or golf team. Putting on a Patriots jersey means you will have to work hard with coaches who will push you to your limit. In order to ensure all athletes remain safe and do not overheat, an ice tub present on our field at all times is essential. 

Currently, we do have an ice bath on the field during football games and practice. However, other sports like lacrosse and soccer that require use of more of the field, for that reason, do not have ice baths on the field. 

The medical trainer, Mr. Milan, explained that the probability of one of our athletes suffering from heatstroke is, “always a high risk when dealing with weather that’s more severe than most parts of our country. It is absolutely an issue for anyone. Any type of physical activity can result in heatstroke, even something as simple as manual labor like gardening.” 

Knowing it holds a big risk, an ice bath should be on or right next to the field during any type of sporting event. We should make our athletes feel safer and more inclined to perform at a higher level by eliminating the risk of dying from Heatstroke.

Jack is a junior and a new addition to the newsmagazine staff. Outside of writing for the sports section, Jack has been a starter on the varsity lacrosse team since his freshman year, as well as being an active fisherman. Jack is in a few clubs outside of the school and plans on going to college at his dream school, The University of Michigan.

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