The weather experts tell us the worst of the heat wave is over. That’s good news. For now. The past few weeks have been brutal in most states, making summer sports events very uncomfortable. And, frankly, dangerous.
When kids are playing or practicing sports, they face risks such as dehydration and even heat stroke. This recent article from sciencedaily.com presents some of the particulars. It’s especially important for parents and coaches to know that kids are more susceptible to heat-related health concerns than adults.
An important point from the article: ”Kids’ bodies don’t acclimate to the heat as well adults. They don’t sweat as effectively. They absorb more heat since they have smaller bodies and a higher ratio of surface area to body mass,” said Jerold Stirling, chair of the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and pediatrician at Loyola University Health System.
If you’re feeling more than uncomfortable watching from the bleachers or the sideline, you can bet the players are suffering even more. Their bodies aren’t able to combat the heat as well as yours can, so we need to be extra vigilant.
Hydration, of course, is crucial. As parents, we need to trust the coaches to be sure they’re insisting on breaks and are telling the kids to take frequent drinks. If that’s not happening, try to find a way to mention the need without being intrusive. Just as kids can forget to drink when focused on playing, coaches can too. Having cold towels the kids can use to cool down is also a smart approach.
During the worst of the heat wave, I heard about teams re-scheduling games for earlier in the day, when it’s cooler. An excellent idea. A pre-game chat about the heat with the opposing coaches is also a good idea, just to be sure everyone is aware of the need to take extra precautions.
With football and fall soccer practices ready to begin in a couple of weeks, we have to make sure the kids are safe. Kids playing in the heat of summer should not be a challenge to their fortitude. The days when coaches pushed their young players to endure the heat to the point of getting sick or passing out are over. It’s not a matter of bravado or toughness. Heat-related sickness is a serious matter. Find other ways to strengthen your players without putting them at risk.