Schools Urged To Be Aware of Heat/Health Dangers
As the 2012-13 school year begins, the AHSAA is urging its member schools to be mindful of the dangers involving heat and other health-related issues. Volleyball practice began August 2 and football, cross country and swimming practice on August 6.
Several excellent reports dealing with health and safety issues can be found on the AHSAA website’s Sports Medicine and Safety link. The link has information on such topics as heat, heat stress, hydration, nutrition and supplements as well as a variety of other health topics.
Among them is a Heat Illness presentation made by AHSAA Medical Advisory Board co-chairman and University of Alabama team physician Dr. James B. Robinson during the 2012 Summer Conference in July. The presentation can also be viewed on the AHSAA website’s Sports Medicine and Safety page.
It is imperative that all schools know and follow all AHSAA rules governing heat-related issues. Among those rules are the mandatory three days in shorts for acclimation to the heat that is required before teams can practice in full gear.
New guidelines are also in place concerning two-a-day practices for all sports. Schools cannot have back-to-back two-a-day practices. When conducting two practice sessions in one day, only one can be in full pads (football). The other can be in helmets and shoulder pads. A minimum break of four hours between practices is also required.
Keeping student-athletes hydrated is also imperative to their health and safety. It is important to have an emergency plan in place at practices and contests to treat anyone you fear is overheating. Treating situations such as heat stroke immediately with a cool-down procedure is extremely important.
Please check out the AHSAA guidelines online. A quick reference is listed below. Any new changes are shaded in gray.
Remember, however, using a common sense approach is always important for the health and safety of student-athletes and coaches.
Rule I, Eligibility
Section 14. Physical Exams: In order for a student to be eligible for interscholastic athletics, there must be on file in the superintendent’s or principal’s office a current physician’s statement certifying that the student has passed a physical exam, and that in the opinion of the examining
physician (M.D. or D.O.) the student is fully able to participate in interscholastic athletics (grades 7-12). The AHSAA Pre-Participation Physical Evaluation Form (Form 5) must be used.
Note: A physical exam will satisfy the requirement for one calendar year as long as the physical is completed within the same calendar month each year from the date of the exam. Example: Physicals given any day in the month of May in 2012 will satisfy the requirement through the last day of May, 2013.
Concussion History: A Concussion Information Form signed annually by each student and his/her parent must be kept on file in the principal’s office where the student is enrolled. (The form will satisfy the requirement for one school year.)
Rule III, Contests
Section 14. Team Practice Restrictions: No team shall engage in any interscholastic competition before it has had at least three weeks of practice during the current season.
Note: A student changing directly from participation in another sport may have less than three weeks of practice before beginning competition.
Section 18. Football Practice Regulations: The first three days of fall football practice must be in shorts. These three days are designed for coaches to determine if the students are conditioned physically for football practice. During the first three days of practice, teams are allowed to use hand-held blocking pads. Helmets may be worn from the first day of practice, full pads from the fourth practice day. The earliest date full pads may be worn is August 9.
No matter when a student begins fall football practice, that student must practice for three days in shorts before practicing in pads.
In all sports, two-a-day practices may not be conducted on consecutive days. When two-a-day practices are conducted, a four (4) hour break is required between the end of the first practice and the beginning of the second practice. In football, only one practice per day may be in full pads. The other practice that day can be only in helmets and shoulder pads.
Section 26. Intravenous Fluid Use Policy: An athlete requiring intravenous fluid treatment (hydration/rehydration) will not be allowed to participate in any athletic activity until cleared by a medical doctor and approved by the parents or guardian. A direct verbal or written order from the medical doctor is required.
Section 27. Concussion Policy: Any student-athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion shall be removed from the contest and shall not return that day. Following the day the concussion symptoms occur, the student-athlete may return to practice or play only after a medical release has been issued by a medical doctor.
Any health care professional or AHSAA certified coach may identify concussive signs, symptoms or behaviors of a student athlete during any type of athletic activity. Once concussive signs are identified, only a medical doctor can clear the athlete to return to play. Any school in
violation of the AHSAA policy application of National Federation rule will be subject to sanctions.
An online NFHS Concussion Course is required for all certified coaches (faculty and non-faculty). The free educational course will aid in identifying symptoms of a concussion and the procedure to follow when these symptoms are recognized. The course is available at www.nfhs.org.
(NFHS Suggested Guidelines for Management of a Concussion are found in the Appendix in the back of each NFHS Rules Book).