GHSA explains heat regulations after Douglas County student - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

GHSA explains heat regulations after Douglas County student athlete is hospitalized


For years heat illnesses and deaths took their toll on student athletes in Georgia.

"At one point Georgia was one of the top two or three states in the county that had a large number of heat deaths," said Gary Phillips, executive director of the Georgia High School Association.

About four years ago, the association decided to do something about that. It partnered with the University of Georgia to develop a set of heat policies.

The policies are clearly spelled out in the GHSA constitution and by-laws handbook.

Schools are asked to measure the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature before and during practice.

This scientific tool takes into account the humidity and other factors to determine the adjusted temperature.

If the adjusted temperature is under 82 degrees, practice is not restricted, but as that number goes up the restrictions tighten.

On Tuesday, the adjusted temperature in Douglas County was around 90 degrees.

Here's what the regulations say regarding that kind of climate:

  • 87.0 - 89.9 degrees: Maximum practice time is two hours. For football: players are restricted to helmet, shoulder pads, and shorts during practice, and all protective equipment must be removed during conditioning activities. If the WBGT rises to this level during practice, players may continue to work out wearing football pants without changing to shorts. For all sports: provide at least four separate rest breaks each hour with a minimum duration of four minutes each.
  • 90.0 – 92.0 degrees: Maximum practice time is one hour. For football: no protective equipment may be worn during practice, and there may be no conditioning activities. For all sports: there must be 20 minutes of rest breaks distributed throughout the hour of practice.

"To this point we have not had the really sad situations that we've run into before," Phillips said.

That is until Zyrees Oliver collapsed in his home Tuesday. Oliver had been medically cleared to practice with the team earlier in the day.

Doctors were unable to determine why the young man was sick when he was brought into the hospital. As of Thursday, Oliver was listed in critical condition.

The GHSA plans to look into the circumstances around the young man's illness to determine if there is something that can be done to prevent any other student athletes from suffering the same way, or if this was something the coaching staff could not have foreseen.

"There might be a physical condition or something that's just not obvious that could contribute to an athlete being in distress," Phillips says.

In the meantime, the GHSA waits to see how Oliver responds to treatment, and for the resolution to that matter before they begin asking questions.

"We just try to take our time and let the medical society take care of the athlete and we'll go from there," Phillips said.

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