Handling heat on the gridiron

By Tracy Clemons

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) – Football season is just around the corner, and teams across the Ark-La-Tex are getting ready for kickoff. With all the triple digit days we've seen, it puts some extra burden to make sure they players make it to the season alright.

When Bossier High School's football team practiced Monday, it was about 97 degrees with a heat index above 100.

"That's what's killing us...it's the humidity. They're just sweating so bad, and they're not used to that," says Defensive Coordinator Hunter Pipes.

Every year athletes go down with serious, sometimes fatal, heat illnesses. Head coach Michael Concilio tells KSLA News 12 that he organizes his practices to make sure that doesn't happen to any Bossier High players.

"We have a break period between everything we do. Every period that goes on the field...the period may be 10 minutes. We'll have a three minute water break."

They also get Gatorade before and after practice. That replenishes electrolytes that they lose when they sweat, and makes them want to drink more fluids to stay well-hydrated.

Concerns about heat are nothing new. But, on the heels of Grambling State football star Christian Anthony's apparent heart attack, there's a little more worry about heart conditions, which should be picked up before a player hits the field.

"If they do not pass a physical, of course, legally you can't put them on the field to participate until they go get a further medical examination," says Coach Concilio.

If a player is cleared by the doctor after further examination, it's with a warning to watch him closely.

"My trainer will have a detailed message on that physical, and we'll be having to keep an eye specifically during the conditioning period."

Every adult on the field is prepared for the worst.

"Every one of our coaches had to take CPR to be able to be where we're at right now," Concilio tells us.

And there is also an emergency defibrillator handy.

Here's a link to an article KSLA News 12 found about heart screenings for young athletes.

2010 KSLA-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.