Football Practices in Intense Heat: Worth It?

Football season has started, athletes on the Davis High School football and cheer squads are suffering through daily grueling triple-digit temperature practices to prepare for the Friday night lights. There are several students at Da Vinci High School who have experienced these blistering practice conditions first-hand.
One of the students is is sophomore Sebastian Tamayo who plays defense on the Junior Varsity team who described how the heat affected him during practice. “When it’s really hot during practice you get really tired and can’t work as hard,” said Tamayo. The Junior Varsity team practices from 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm four days a week, with a three hour-long game on Fridays. The majority of this time is spent in the hot sun.
The DHS Junior Varsity Football Team began the 2017 season with a summer boot camp at the beginning of July. It is important to note for this year, 2017, that high temperature records were broken twenty-one out of the thirty-one days in July and that there was only one day in the month when the high temperature was below 90o F.
The effects of high ambient temperatures on the body, called heat stress, include excessive sweating, dehydration, confusion, highly elevated respiratory and heart rate, the loss of consciousness and death.
Football players practicing under the sun on artificial turf, in full uniform even at temperatures under 85o F, experience significant heat stress with turf temperatures of over 100o F.
“During exceptionally hot practices, if we are not prepared, the heat can ruin our practice. Fatigue caused by dehydration is one of the biggest problems,” said Tamayo. Because of this, coaches take preventative measures to insure the safety of their athletes.
“If it’s really hot, coaches pay more attention to our physical health, and if they know ahead of time it’s going to get really hot, they will require us to bring cold water,” said Tamayo.
Heat can not only degrade an athlete’s physical performance, but it can also significantly impair the player’s mental functions. Juniors Isabella (Bella) Carrazco and Marissa Thompson of the DHS cheer team have both experienced how extreme heat can affect performing team activities.
“When the dance room that we practice in becomes really hot we all get really sweaty and it becomes a little bit more dangerous to perform stunts,” said Thompson. The football and cheer teams share similar complaints about practicing in hot weather.
“We don’t work as well in the heat because we’re more focused on trying to keep our body’s cool and hydrated, therefore a lot of the cheerleaders aren’t working to their full potentials,” said Carrazco.
Although the dangers of practicing in the hot sun are evident, changing the practice times for the football and cheer teams is nearly impossible due to the busy lives of the students who participate.

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