By Ken Reed

The latest episode of Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel on HBO looks at the shocking number of high school football players who have died as a result of heat stoke resulting from intense football practices, often conducted during periods of intense heat.

The sad part is that all of the deaths were preventable, if only a few simple and inexpensive steps had been taken.

However, football coaches, high school athletic directors and state high school athletics associations have, for whatever reason, ignored these simple and inexpensive steps.

“It is imperative that medical personnel and coaching staffs quickly recognize [the signs of heat stroke] and initiate appropriate care,” says Dr. Douglas J. Casa, PhD, CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute (KSI) and Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut.

Research has shown that once the symptoms are recognized, if an athlete is put into a cheap portable tub (about $150) filled with ice water, they will quickly recover from the heat stroke.

“All the evidence indicates that if someone can go into one of those tubs within 10 minutes they are going to survive the heat stroke,” says Casa.

It is shameful that adults (coaches, athletic directors and high school athletic administrators) entrusted with the care of young athletes are ignoring this simple remedy that can prevent the ultimate tragedy.

These unnecessary deaths have been occurring for far too long at all levels of football. There is absolutely no legitimate reason that having a plastic tub filled with ice water at all football practices and games conducted in high heat isn’t a nationwide policy across all high school and youth football organizations.

Here’s hoping this HBO report finally spurs that action.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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